It is two days from the first day of fall which can only mean two things: First, the best month and season have arrived, and second, I forgot to do anything to celebrate this little blog’s first birthday. August 22, 2012 was my first post here and that date has come and gone unnoticed. So, although I’m a month late, I still prefer to celebrate great birthdays in September and I’m going to celebrate today with a marvel of a little book about a sweet shrew mouse’s birthday. Completely wordless, but incredibly stunning; this is nothing but a little masterpiece from a fantastic illustrator. So come to a party with me in Shrewbettina’s Birthday by John S. Goodall, 1970.
In case you are wondering about that first picture, yes that is actually the title page. My copy of this book is a vintage gem without a cover and the poor thing has nothing on but a hideous dirty yellow cloth cover. I decided to spare it the embarrassment of showing up to a party in such attire and reserved its dignity with its lovely title page. I will however close with a peek at its beautiful end pages so stay tuned for that.
This book is small, measuring about 5″ x 7″ and it is completely wordless except that title page. Being a Goodall wonder it also holds many unique and immensely delightful page turns. Every other page is actually a half page that when turned changes the current scene in the room.
The story begins with Shrewbettina asleep in bed.
Then her charming clock chimes morning and she awakes with the half page turn (click on the above image to view). Words are terribly difficult to express the joys of these small page turns. It is a delight to go back and forth between the pages and see what details changed and what occurred in the moment.
The story is also an eventful one including Shrewbettina’s trip to the market that begins with a thief snatching her purse, a handsome gentleman stepping in, preparing her home and herself for the party, and then finally the party including a feast, dancing and much fun!
The details of these illustrations are truly something to behold. John S. Goodall is one of England’s best-loved artists and all of his children’s books are similar in form to this one. Although wordless, there is definitely a plot and it keeps you guessing and wondering. Not only did Goodall have immense illustration skill, but his cleverness and wit come out in full force too. The outfits on his characters are so perfect!
Studying each page of the book just leaves me in awe and also a bit exhausted at the end like sweet Shrewbettina once all her guests leave. This girl knows how to party!
Books like this are such a little treasure. Every time you read it, the story will be a bit different as you fill in the details with your eyes and mind. I hope you enjoyed the sweet party that I could give via the blog. Thanks for reading along. Happy September everyone and most importantly, happy fall!