Tag Archives: French

The White Cat

image from The White Cat

The White Cat cover

Another book illustrated by the wonderful Janet and Anne Grahame Johnstone. This is a French fairy story by Madame la Comtesse d’Aulnoy written in 1682. Published by Dean 1972. This isn’t a story that appears in fairytale collections very often, let alone in a book to itself. It’s a classic enchanted-creature, dividing the kingdom tale, but in this story the enchanted creature is the princess and the prince is on the journey.

Three princes are sent on a quest to find the prettiest, tiniest dog for their father. The youngest prince gets lost in the forest and finds his way to a mysterious castle where the servants are strange disembodied hands. It turns out that the castle is the home of the Queen of Cats.

image from The White Cat

The prince meets the Queen of Cats

The Queen of Cats takes quite a fancy to the prince and he stays with her until it is time to return to his father. The Queen gives him a dog that fits inside a cob nut. Of course the King was a bit put out by this and sent his sons on another quest and so on and so on.

While the youngest prince is living with the Queen of Cats she treats him to entertainments, parties and feasts. She even has her own theatre – isn’t this great!

image from The White Cat

Cat theatre!

I won’t tell you the end of the story – but suffice to to say they lived happily ever after…

image from The White Cat

Watching the fireworks

The illustration is sumptuous and the costumes are authentic late-1600s. Costume was one of the Johnstone sisters’ great strengths and interests – especially Anne (I believe Janet focussed on animals).

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Books and Illustrators from my childhood number 6: Pere Castor’s Wild Animal Books

I have to confess that I don’t remember these, but they would have been around during my childhood. I’d like to think I would have seen some.

While I was pottering in a secondhand and bric-a-brac emporium in Hitchin today I came across this.

Frou jacket art

Frou jacket

This is a story about Frou the hare, number 4 of Pére Castor’s Wild Animal Books, illustrated by Feodor Stepanovich Rojankovsky also known as Rojan.

There are more examples of his work here http://www.fulltable.com/VTS/aoi/r/roja/r.htm

The series was translated by Rose Fyleman  and was published by George Allen & Unwin Ltd in the UK and by Flammarion in France. This book has no date, but Amazon are listing it as 1938.

There’s more on Pére Castor here http://www.answers.com/topic/pere-castor

This book is absolutely enchanting; a mix of non-fiction and a story of Frou the young hare from his early life (His father had been eaten up by a fox and his sister had been carried off by an owl!) to meeting Capucine, his girlfriend and their life together.

Page from Frou

We’re introduced to Frou

Frou meets Capucine

Frou and Capucine meet

The story covers about a year in their lives. They have to hide from foxes and crows, the huntsmen and their dogs, a separation and a joyful reunion.

The happy ending

The happy ending

The lithographs by Rojan are just gorgeous – I shall be looking for more in the series.

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