Title: The Rescuers
Author: Margery Sharp, illustrated by Garth Williams
Genre: fiction (children’s fiction)
Length: 149 pages
Source: public library
Reason for Reading: Disney made a movie in 1977 called The Rescuers and is based on this book. I always like to read books that spur some of my favorite movies, so that is the real reasoning behind reading this book.
Summary (product description):
Miss Bianca is a white mouse of great beauty and supreme self-confidence, who, courtesy of her excellent young friend, the ambassador’s son, resides luxuriously in a porcelain pagoda painted with violets, primroses, and lilies of the valley. Miss Bianca would seem to be a pampered creature, and not, you would suppose, the mouse to dispatch on an especially challenging and extraordinarily perilous mission. However, it is precisely Miss Bianca that the Prisoner’s Aid Society (we all know, don’t we, that mice are the friends of prisoners, tending to their needs in dungeons and oubliettes everywhere) picks out for the job of rescuing a Norwegian poet imprisoned in the legendarily dreadful Black Castle. Miss Bianca, after all, is a poet too, and in any case she is due to travel any day now by diplomatic pouch to Norway. There Miss Bianca will be able to enlist one Nils, known to be bravest mouse in the land, in a desperate and daring endeavor that will take them, together with their trusty companion Bernard, across turbulent seas and over the paws and under maws of cats into one of the darkest places known to man or mouse. It will take everything they’ve got and a good deal more to escape with their own lives, leave aside the poet.
My Thoughts: I thought that this book was pretty good read and it was actually quite filled with action. As a result, I actually read it in only a few hours. Well, that and the fact that it’s a children’s book so it’s not very long anyways. There wasn’t much depth in the story, but I realize that is because of the target audience. I was trying to figure out how the mice would save the Norwegian and found that I was thinking too much and trying to figure out complex ways–in the end the rescue mission was very simple.
But, while there wasn’t much depth in the story because it’s a children’s book, the story itself didn’t seem as if it should be directed at children. I didn’t feel that the story was inappropriate for children, necessarily, but rather that it was just something a child wouldn’t be interested in. Yes, there are mice. And in the mid-1900s, talking mice might have been a crazy idea! But with all of the children’s books and movies today, mice aren’t all that great 🙂 And maybe I’m just feeling this way because I think the Disney movie is more interesting to children than this book.
Book vs. 1977 Disney Film: The stories are essentially different in every way, aside from the names of Bernard and Bianca. And only the names–the characters belonging to these names were quite different between the two. To be quite honest, I’m not sure how the screenwriters for the Disney film even arrived at their story if it was based on this book, they are that different. Perhaps there were parts from the rest of the Rescuers series books that spurred parts of the movie, but I have no way of knowing that quite yet as I haven’t read them. Just don’t expect the same story in the book and the movie.
On a side note, the book appears that it will be reissued this year. There is a lovely looking edition to come out this July, at least according to Amazon.com. Same illustrations as the first edition I read, but a prettier cover, to be sure 🙂