Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Pavo and the Princess

Pavo and the Princess
Evaline Ness ~ Charles Scribner's Sons ~ 1964


Ex-wife of the infamous prohibition agent, Eliot Ness, and an all around bad ass, Evaline Ness' books always surprise me. Her tight, minimal wood cuts are usually paired with stories that have some dark, sadness of childhood element, giving them a hint of gloomy in a two-color world. Super cool. Any book with a peacock as a main character is going to shine in this house, but beyond that, we have a story of a spoiled princess with cruelty in her heart who refuses to show weakness by crying.

The only person who loved the princess was her father (ouch), and her lack of tears worried and grieved him.

To test if her heart can be touched, he gifts his daughter his prized peacock, Pavo, and everything pretty much goes down hill from there. The resentment and anger inside the girl is so strong and deep, she begins to transfer her hatred for the world onto the poor bird, taunting him and tying up his feathers. Only when the bird flees does the princess taste remorse and the tears begin to flow. A book to prove the importance of getting emotions out and the essential nature of kindness in all of us, no matter how wounded our humanity might be.

Forever after that, Pavo and the Princess were never separated. With the King, they walked together every morning early. They played a new game together every afternoon, and they cried whenever they felt unhappy. On special occasions they cried just for the joy of it.

Amen.

Also by:
Sam, Bangs & Moonshine
Some of the Days of Everett Anderson
Fierce the Lion

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8 comments:

annie said...

these illustrations are brilllliant. love!! ahh. thank you. :)

Carin Bramsen said...

This post is chock-full of things I didn't know, and beautiful images. I have Ness's Sam, Bangs and Moonshine, which I love, and I see you've posted about it eloquently before. I had no idea she was married to Eliot Ness, and have never seen her work in this flat, colorful style. It sounds like the Princess here has shades of Sam's self-sufficiency and bitter remorse (the scene where Sam cries behind her father's chair really kills me). Thanks for introducing me to so much wonderful stuff.

Laura@popdesign said...

These illustrations are outstanding... thanks again, I love your blog!

Kitty as a Picture Kids' Design Blog said...

I love the unusual mix of colours. Lovely illustrations. I shall live in hope of stumbling across this at the markets one day :)

Kitty as a Picture Kids' Design Blog said...

I love the unusual mix of colours. Lovely illustrations...I shall live in hope of stumbling across this at the markets one day :)

Lou@weheartbooks said...

What a beautiful book. I too love Sam, Bangs and Moonshine and can see Sam in the princess but the colours in these illustrations are amazing and so different to the starkness of Sam, Bangs and Moonshine. I'd love to find more of her works and will now be looking out for them.

Tera said...

I truly love this book! Really beautiful work of art.

spamwayglobal said...

I absolutely love the illustrations in this book. Thanks for sharing.

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