The Rescuers ~ Margery Sharp
with drawings by Judith Brook
London: Collins, 1959
I was ten years old when Disney's The Rescuers came to the big screen. It was quite a treat for my sisters and I to go to the movie theatre and see it. Soon thereafter, I was delighted to learn that the movie was actually based on books. The Rescuers, Miss Bianca a fantasy & Miss Bianca in the Salt Mines soon made their way into my heart and home!
In this first book, three mice set out to rescue an imprisoned poet from the Black Castle. The story of how Bernard, Miss Bianca and Nils come together as part of the Prisoner's Aid Society and then set out on their long and perilous journey is quite an adventure. When finally they reach the Black Castle, more obstacles stand in their way including Mamelouk, the Head Jailer's cat. Months of waiting and careful planning go by before the three brave mice can even attempt their rescue, their timing must be perfect.
It was wonderful to re-discover these books again and share them with my 8 y.o. daughter. She didn't ask why this first book wasn't anything like the movie she knows so well; I had to laugh though, when she asked why the mice "talk funny". As most readers well know and as I explained to my daughter, Miss Bianca is of a certain social class, a rather high society mouse. Being unaccustomed to older, "proper" English prose, the narration felt a little off to her young ears but she soon adjusted and picked up some new vocabulary along the way.
Something else she found terribly funny comes from the part of the story where Miss Bianca is in search of a brave Norwegian mouse,
"In the Embassy cellar there was evidently some kind of bachelor-party going on. At least fifty Norwegian mice were gathered there—singing and shouting and drinking beer."
That's right, beer drinking mice and they are swigging it back in the illustration on the opposite page which includes a floor littered with empties and spilled tankards! It's actually quite cute but not something I would expect to find in more recent editions of this classic tale. Thankfully, our library has all nine of the original titles for my daughter and I to enjoy reading together!