September 2010! (At this point, insert a mental image of me doing my happy dance!) Readers of this blog know that I have been begging and pleading for this book, and the subsequent titles in the series, to be reissued for a new audience to enjoy--not to mention those old foggies like myself who simply adore them. And my prayers have been answered! Kane Miller Books, which has been steadily introducing high quality books from around the world to an appreciative American audience, are bringing The Church Mouse to our shores. I certainly hope the rest of the series won't be far behind.
But it's not all smooth sailing for Arthur, Samson, and the new inhabitants of the church. When a Harvest Festival mishap seems to spell banishment for the mice, they are able to prove their worth to the congregants and ensure their permanent residency as church mice all.
When I read the Church Mice books, I am always struck by Graham Oakley's love for his craft. His experience as a set designer has served him well as a picture book creator. The impressive amount of detail in his illustrations is never wasted. In a double page spread of the church sanctuary where chaos has just reigned, the reader will get as much amusement from the old man sat in the back pew who slept through the whole kerfuffle, as they will from the expressions on the faces of the angry congregants and the crestfallen mice. Each illustration offers so much to look at and enjoy, that it's impossible not to return to these books. They are a joy to read and share, and just as much of a joy to read alone. When I want to show patrons that picture books are not just for kids (har har,) I show them the church mice books. In the past, my church mice books have been held together with an awful lot of binding tape and crossed fingers. What a pleasure to be able to show them a new, pristine edition of this classic.
My work here is done......
Many thanks to Kane Miller Books, who provided me with a copy of the book to preview. They didn't make me beg too much ;)