Vintage Illustrations: Pleasant Fieldmouse’s Halloween Party

It’s a spectacularly rainy day here in Devon, so we decided to take a trip to Totnes. Unfortunately, the pickings were fairly slim in the town’s charity shops. However, we did find this little gem and after some deliberation (and yummy veggie food at the Willow cafe), I decided to buy it:

Spotted in Oxfam's window for £6.99!
Spotted in Oxfam's window for £6.99!

I got thoroughly drenched on our walk round; my own fault for being stubborn and not taking the brolly with me. It’s lovely and cosy to be back in the cottage now: laptop on, cup of tea and fire merrily flickering away behind me. Even the rain spattering outside is adding to the cosiness. The book is delightful. I’m so glad I bought it. Already, my mind is whirling with ideas of what to do with it. I think some Halloween-themed lessons will be in order next week.

Pleasant Fieldmouse's Halloween Party by Jan Wahl
Pleasant Fieldmouse's Halloween Party by Jan Wahl

The book, ‘Pleasant Fieldmouse’s Halloween Party’ was written by Jan Wahl in 1974. This edition was published in Great Britain in 1976. The gorgeous pictures are by Wallace Tripp. Other books about Pleasant Fieldmouse have been illustrated by Maurice Sendak, but I much prefer Trip’s whimsical and beautiful drawings. The sleeve jacket reads:

“When swallows fly south and pumpkins turn orange, the forest animals get ready for winter. But Pleasant Fieldmouse isn’t thinking about the cold wind – he’s planning a Halloween party! When the moonlit, spooky night arrives, there are rustling sounds… and sudden, scary noises! The mysterious capers that precede the party guarantee a night of surprises for everyone, including some uninvited guests, and especially Pleasant Fieldmouse. The lively and warm illustrations by Wallace Tripp are a perfect complement to Jan Wahl’s rambunctious and humourous- BOO!”

Big forest pumpkins!
Big forest pumpkins!
The squirrel twins dash about - storing nuts.
The squirrel twins dash about - storing nuts.
 
"Come as Scary as Possible," he wrote.
"Come as Scary as Possible," he wrote.
A number of ghosts appeared, in all sizes.
A number of ghosts appeared, in all sizes.
Squirrel ghosts! Mouse ghosts! Weasel ghosts!
Squirrel ghosts! Mouse ghosts! Weasel ghosts!

 These are some of my favourite drawings from the book – how cute are the tiny mice in their little ghost costumes? And with the sentence, “Some end-of-year honeybees flew, timidly, as tiny, tiny bee ghosts.” you can’t fail to be captured by the writing as well.

"It's the event of the year!" yelled Softy Squirrel.
"It's the event of the year!" yelled Softy Squirrel.
"I'm having a nightmare!" shouted the mole.
"I'm having a nightmare!" shouted the mole.

 The poor mole – moles are always portrayed as boring and miserable. I wonder why it is? I’ve got quite an affection for moles…

Both ladies yowled with fright and ran for their lives!
Both ladies yowled with fright and ran for their lives!
Each ghost - shaking a candle - began scaring the ghost figure ahead or behind.
Each ghost - shaking a candle - began scaring the ghost figure ahead or behind.

Unfortunately, I’m having huge problems with the internet here. Blame the rural location, horrendous weather or my own ineptitude. Either way, it’s taken two hours to get this far… so I’ll continue with pictures from the next part of the story another day. 

 

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