Miss Bianca is a white mouse of great beauty and supreme self-confidence, who, courtesy of her excellent young friend, the ambassador’s son, resides luxuriously in a porcelain pagoda painted with violets, primroses, and lilies of the valley. Miss Bianca would seem to be a pampered creature, and not, you would suppose, the mouse to dispatch on an especially challenging and extraordinarily perilous mission. However, it is precisely Miss Bianca that the Prisoners’ Aid Society picks for the job of rescuing a Norwegian poet imprisoned in the legendarily dreadful Black Castle. Miss Bianca, after all, is a poet too, and in any case she is due to travel any day now to Norway. There Miss Bianca will be able to enlist one Nils, known to be the bravest mouse in the land, in a desperate and daring endeavor that will take them, along with their trusty companion Bernard, across turbulent seas and over the paws and under the maws of cats into one of the darkest places known to man or mouse. It will take everything they’ve got and a good deal more to escape with their own lives, not to mention the poet. Margery Sharp’s classic tale of pluck, luck, and derring-do is amply and beautifully illustrated by the great Garth Williams.
Margery Sharp (1905-1991) published fifteen novels for adults before writing The Rescuers (1959), her first book for children. Born Clara Margery Melita Sharp in Salisbury, England, she spent part of her childhood in Malta before returning to England for high school. By the time she graduated with honors in French from the University of London, she had already begun publishing short stories; her work would later become a fixture in such American and British magazines as Harper’s Bazaar, Ladies’ Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, and Punch. Several of Sharp’s novels were serialized and a number became successful films, including Cluny Brown (screenplay by Ernst Lubitsch) and Britannia Mews (written by Ring Lardner, Jr.); the Rescuers series eventually numbered nine volumes and inspired two animated feature films from Disney.
Garth Williams (1912–1996) was known for his realistic yet highly expressive animal characters. He brought to life some of the best-loved children’s books of the twentieth century, including Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series and E. B. White’s Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little. Williams illustrated many timeless Golden Books, including Baby Farm Animals, Mister Dog, and The Friendly Book.
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