Posts Tagged James Marshall

Nonsense


I see the Google doodle for Edward Lear’s 200th birthday.

As Michael Rosen writes, Lear began writing nonsense during his stays at the Knowsley estate of Lord Stanley, who had hired the young Lear to paint his menagerie. He was so bored by the company: “the uniform apathetic tone assumed by lofty society irks me dreadfully … nothing I long for half so much as to giggle heartily and to hop on one leg down the great gallery – but dare not.”

So, Edward Lear’s The Owl and the Pussycat:

I

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea

In a beautiful pea green boat,

They took some honey, and plenty of money,

Wrapped up in a five pound note.

The Owl looked up to the stars above,

And sang to a small guitar,

‘O lovely Pussy! O Pussy my love,

What a beautiful Pussy you are,

You are,

You are!

What a beautiful Pussy you are!’

II

Pussy said to the Owl, ‘You elegant fowl!

How charmingly sweet you sing!

O let us be married! too long we have tarried:

But what shall we do for a ring?’

They sailed away, for a year and a day,

To the land where the Bong-tree grows

And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood

With a ring at the end of his nose,

His nose,

His nose,

With a ring at the end of his nose.

III

‘Dear pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling

Your ring?’ Said the Piggy, ‘I will.’

So they took it away, and were married next day

By the Turkey who lives on the hill.

They dined on mince, and slices of quince,

Which they ate with a runcible spoon;

And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,

They danced by the light of the moon,

The moon,

The moon,

They danced by the light of the moon.

My favourite illustrated version is by James Marshall:


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It’s so nice to have a wolf about the house

Thanks to M for putting me onto this one too!

I am sorry if your connection speed doesn’t allow youtube §

This is a film of a children’s book called “It’s so nice to have a wolf about the house”, by the great team of writer Harry Allard and illustrator James Marshall, about a wonderful wolf who comes to help out an old man and his old pets. He claims he’s a dog, a German shepherd. But it’s all just too good to last, and it turns out he has a past…

Part One:

Part Two:

§ At least you can enjoy a bit of controversy, from the amazon.com page for the book:

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful:

The moral of  “people labels”,  June 7, 1998

As a child, I remember reading Harry Allard and James Marshall’s “It’s So Nice to Have a Wolf Around the House,” and feeling a deep sympathy for the main character, Cuthbert Q. Divine. All children can learn from this lovely children’s tale that teaches the danger of quick assumptions. Although Cuthbert is a fugitive from the law, it is obvious that this is not the life he wants. Despite all of the stereotypes about wolves, Cuthbert truly loves the Old Man and his pets with no ulterior motive involved–“all he wanted to do was make the old man and his three pets happy.” In fact, the Old man and his pets seem happier than ever when Cuthbert is around, as he takes care of all the chores while, at the same time, making the house a funloving place to live in. Cuthbert makes fancy desserts and organizes costume parties. When the Old Man discovers that Cuthbert is actually a wolf disguised as a the German Shepard he hired as his “charming companion”, he feels betrayed and frightened. However, upon this confrontation, it is Cuthbert who is “pale and shaking.” In fact, when faced with his sordid past, Cuthbert faints. In a sorrow-evoking mini-monologue, Cuthbert reveals that he’s always wanted to be good but no one expected him to be, as he was a wolf. This is representative of many children today who feel as if they have a “label.” In many schools, there is a “bully” who it seems never does anything kind or good. In so many fairy tales, wolves are depicted as a wholly evil and manipulative species. So, by Cuthbert breaking free of the stereotype his race of creatures elicits, a moral shines through for our children: Always be who you want to be, not who people think you are.

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Forgiveness as disregard for wrongdoing It is true that the wolf seeks to make the Old Man’s household happy. But, do guilt offerings by wrongdoers help the victim if they are offered to someone else? Of course not. Yet, by having readers sympathize with the wolf, Allard makes it seem acceptable.

The fact is the wolf has done harm, and this story whitewashes his actions in utter disregard for his victims. This is the intellectual “blank out” that the Left has used to give criminals a second chance with no regard for the damage they have done, or may repeat*.

Justice necessarily includes retribution &/or restitution. The wolf must fix his past by repaying his debts properly, otherwise he simply “gets away with it”, as all criminals would like. (E.g. “I will kill my wife, and then be good for ever after.”)

Allard is apparently so uninterested in this necessary principle of justice that he is willing to engage children in its subversion.

People wonder why today’s youth seem so lacking in morality! It’s because the adults are lacking in morality.

*This seems to be a popular notion with the courts these day.

Nice when adults can get over their pride and really engage with a kids’ book! How can this be out of print!!?

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Split Pea Soup

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Martha was very fond of making split pea soup. Sometimes she made it all day long. Pots and pots of split pea soup.

If there was one thing that George was not fond of, it was split pea soup. As a matter of fact, George hated split pea soup more than anything else in the world. But it was so hard to tell Martha.

Click here and scroll down to see a little of this tiny story by the amazing author-illustrator James Marshall.

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“It is said that he discovered his vocation on a 1971 summer afternoon, lying on a hammock drawing. His mother was watching Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf , and the main characters, George and Martha, ultimately became characters in one of his children’s books.”

His books have a subtly nuanced warmth to them – and are a good read for six year olds, and adults too.

My friend Mick and I are very fond of his Fox books, and have used them in class loads. I read here that:

“under the pen name “Edward Marshall”, Marshall began to produce his “Fox” books, which is a popular easy-to-read series. Once when asked why he created the pseudonym, Marshall answered,” I wanted to do an easy-to-read book, but I was under an exclusive contract at a publishing house so I made up Edward, supposedly a cousin of mine from San Antonio. One day an editor called me and said ‘we’re having so much trouble reaching your cousin to get publicity material, could you tell me something about him?’ ‘Well,’ I said, ‘It’s very difficult for him living way out there near the crematorium with his eighteen children….’ I just spun a whole yarn about this so-called cousin, and before I knew it, it was printed in a publication.”

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