Margery Sharp, author.
Garth Williams, illustrator
1959; re-released 2011
I can sing every word of the songs from the animated Rescuers movie–truly, one of the classics of its genre. So, it was with delight that I discovered a month or so ago that it was a book first!! Imagine my added interest when I realized that Garth Williams was the illustrator (he did Charlotte’s Web and The Little House books).
And, yes, the book is about two mice named Bernard and Bianca who rescue someone. And there the similarity ends. Disney’s animated version did a good job of portraying Bernard’s and Bianca’s characters, but they completely made up every last little bit of detail and plot for the movie. You might say that the movie was “suggested” by the book.
Still, the book is delightful and worth reading. It reads like an older children’s novel, but it would be a terrific selection for precocious child readers and/or those who enjoy old-fashioned animal fantasies. Bernard and Bianca are actually teamed up with another mouse named Nils and they are attempting to rescue a Norwegian poet who’s been imprisoned in the formidable black castle. Each member of their brave team contributes valuable service in their quest. All comes right in the end, but there is a part of the ending I didn’t see coming…
Recommended for elementary and up; this would make an okay read aloud to elementary aged children and experienced listeners that are younger. It’s the kind of book I would have thoroughly enjoyed reading on my own as a child.