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Bookends: The Little Prince Pops Up and Malcolm gets Muddy January 18, 2017

Posted by klondykewriter in Bookends, Science Fiction, Whitehorse Star.
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Bookends: The Little Prince Pops Up and Malcolm gets Muddy

By Dan Davidson

little-princeJune 22, 2016

– 844 words

 

The Little Prince

By Antoine de Saint Exupéry

Translation by Richard Howard

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

61 pages

$35.00

 

I hardly need to say very much about the story told in this little book. A downed French airman, stranded in the desert, comes across a small person who demands that he draw him a sheep. We know the airman really can’t draw, because we’ve seen his earlier efforts, the ones that made everyone tell him to find another profession when he was just a child. But he’s clever and manages to satisfy the little person.

The small person comes to be known as the Prince of the title, and he hails from a little planet the size of a house, possibly a body best thought of as an asteroid.

The Little Prince relates a great many strange adventures to our nameless narrator, telling of the six planets he visited on his way to Earth and the strange inhabitants he met on his journey. Each of the solitary beings on these other small planets exhibit certain bizarre behaviors which are really a commentary on human fallibility, but that’s not clear to the Prince.

In the end he returns to his nameless planet, and to the obligations he feels he has there, propelled by the somewhat gruesome method of being bitten by a snake. It looks a lot like dying, but it is not.

Now, this is not the same book as the one I gave my wife as a gift back in the 1970s. For one thing, it’s a new translation, with a somewhat different linguistic sensibility. Comparing the two texts, I find the present one to be less stuffy and formal, but I don’t know that it changes much.

For another, it’s a shorter book. Our copy, having substantially larger print than this edition, is 113 pages; this one has 64 much larger pages with a lot more words on them in much smaller print.

The print size chosen for this book bothers me for the very simple reason that this is an oversized pop-up book, many times the size of our little paperback edition and filled with what must be dozens of pop-up sections and folding flaps. These are created by a process called paper engineering and are all based on the clever two dimensional drawings that grace the original.

Pop-up books don’t have to be just for children of course, but this is a story that lends itself to the age group, even if it is actually a satire about the human condition. The print size is going to make this one difficult for young eyes to follow.

Summing up then, this is a beautiful edition of this book. I like the text and I’m extremely impressed with the pop-up art. What I’m not at all sure about is who it was aimed at. If it’s for adults, and at that price this seems likely, then it’s the same sort of audience that made Nick Bantock’s Griffin & Sabine trilogy so popular bank in the 1990s.

It looks more like a children’s book, but the current translator feels that his work is closer to the “radical outrage” of the original French text, which he suggests can be read between the lines. That makes it more of an adult book, and the packaging now sends very mixed messages about that.

 

And Then it Rained on Malcolmand-then-it-rained

Written by Paige Feurer
Illustrated by Rich Farr

Sky Pony Press

40 pages

$23.99

 

There’s no question what age group this is aimed at. It’s the age 3 to 6 crowd and this is one that is meant to be shared, adult to child.

Malcolm is having a great time building a castle in his sandbox when the rain comes and dissolves his efforts. He’s furious at first, but then he decides he is not going to let the weather spoil his fun. So he gets dressed for it, goes back outside, and does every rainy day thing he can possibly think of. This is a delightful sequence of pictures.

That is all fine until he flops in a big puddle full of worms. The worms get into his boots, and his clothes and his hair and just everywhere really. It isn’t that he is afraid of the worms; but it is that they tickle terribly, and that drives him back into the house, where he makes a very serious muddy wet mess while trying to escape them. Of course. it all gets cleaned up by the end of the story.

This is a very energetic book. The artwork is colourful and expressive and full of action. The worms are cuter than any worms have a right to be.

The text is very simple, and it probably won’t take more than a few readings before a young mind will have in memorized. As this is one good way to get kids started in reading for themselves, I certainly have to recommend this book.

 

-30-

 

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