Margery Sharp ~ Roy McKie ~ Little, Brown and Company, 1960
Though it would be limiting to call this one just a children's book, it was concepted and illustrated by two children's literature icons ~ Sharp (the writer of The Rescuers) and McKie (my previously gushed over children's book crush)~ therefore making it enough of a kids' story to keep on my son's shelf. Really, if you haven't fallen in love with Roy McKie yet, this one should put you over the top.
A "pictorial memoir" of an opera-singing dog, the story was conceived by Ms. Sharpe and brought to black and white life by McKie in page after page of wordless, melancholy whimsy. From Sharp's forward...
To speak with any assumption of intimacy concerning the great artist known as Mélisande is, alas, impossible. A most loyal and unselfish comrade -- a "perfect pet" in the rehearsal room -- she nonetheless hedged every private thought and emotion with delicate reticence which none would fail to respect and beyond which only a cad would attempt to pry. Many of her relations are still living -- it is known she was one of a numerous family -- but they too have preserved the same dignified and, (may one say it?), rare discretion. What follows is thus no more than a brief sketch of the great diva's dazzling, all-to-brief public career.
A rags to riches tale of talent, taste and philanthropy, the uncommon canine wins your love from page one and sweeps you into her life, engaged fully until the final illustration. My son digs her, hard... her sweet smile and happy story of fame and fortune. This book takes the seriousness out of opera and the silliness out of a simple children's story. All heart, really. Two paws up indeed.
Bennett Cerf's Book of Animal Riddles
The Nose Book