Quirky Books: Mr. Mistoffelees with Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer by T. S. Eliot

Friday, September 12, 2008

Mr. Mistoffelees with Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer by T. S. Eliot

My first impression of this book is, "I am not enthused." Having read T. S. Eliot's "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats" It was difficult understanding why this book is literature. The words are from T. S. Elliot.

Errol Le Cain, the illustrator, defined commercial art in children books since 1969. His first illustrated book is "The Cabbage Princess" by Faber and Faber. Working for Richard Williams' animation studio in 1965, Le Cain was artistic prodigy born in Singapore.

I understand why someone would want to him illustrate this book, considering his talent and experience. The cats chosen for topic are more colorful, magical and childlike cats fit for children.

If you have a child, they will love "Mr. Mistoffelees with Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer." Since Le Cain's style has defined the industry, it is similar to several other children books. The only difference is in knowing he is the original.

Some pictures are creative, such as: Mistoffelees' collar of cards, top hat and cloak of the stars. There is one page where the children are running up to the text. This brings attention to the poem. However, two virtually blank pages at the beginning irritate me. I understand white space brings attention to the text, yet sometimes graphics run away from text. Only Mistoffelees eyes lead back to the poem. Everything else makes me want to turn the page.

None of the pages are numbered. Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer have an impressive illustration bouncing on a clothes line. Rumpelteazer is placed above the line to create motion and skewed perspective of buildings implies height and depth. Meanwhile, their faces are focused and centered so it isn't awkward.

I understand why an artist would want to illustrate this book. The first edition of "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats" was illustrated by Nicholas Bentely in 1940. The second edition was illustrated by Edward Gorey. Gorey's illustrations adjust the meaning of the poetry. This book has historical significance. You may want to add it to a collection. Do not be fooled. It is a children's book.

Quirky Books
Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot