12.15.2010

The Christmas Mouse, Barbara Remington


This book is just one of the reasons I go to library sales. Found in the bargain section, I knew The Christmas Mouse was special just by the book jacket design. Based on the true story of how the Christmas carol, Silent Night, was written, it is told through Kaspar, a mouse. Kaspar lives in the Church of St. Nicholas in a little village in Austria, where Silent Night was played and sung for the first time on Christmas Eve in 1818. Kaspar is a gentle little mouse who likes his home. The story, written by Elisabeth Wenning, is lovely. There is a nice flow and balance to the illustrations by Barbara Remington. Her depiction of the characters show a gentleness which reinforce the story. I like the red, brown and olive colors added to her drawings and the period clothing. I also like the lettering used on the cover and title page.











The Christmas Mouse 
By Elisabeth Wenning 
Drawings by Barbara Remington 
Holt-Rhinehart & Winston, 1959

Artist and illustrator Barbara Remington was born in Minnesota. She is best known for her cover art for Ballantine Books first paperback edition of J.R.R. Tolkien's novel, The Lord of the Rings. Remington had not been able to get hold of the books before making the illustration and only had a vague idea what they were about. Tolkien did not like her illustration. But the artwork was popular and led to a large edition poster as well as work for similar genre fiction. The panorama poster, over 6' long, now apparently sells for hundreds of dollars. Barbara became a big fan of Tolkien's work and would have "definitely drawn different pictures", had she been able to read the books first.

Some children's books illustrated by Barbara Remington: Really Not Really (1962), The Billy Goat Gruff (1962),  The Three Bears and Goldilocks (1962), The Scarlett Thread (1968) and Scuttle the Stowaway Mouse (1969). She often signed her work "BRem".

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