Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Dorothy Kunhardt and Garth Williams' ROGER MOUSE'S WISH

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Editor's Update, 6:30 PM on April 10, 2013: Mary sent me text and scans of three pages of Roger Mouse's Wish. I've inserted that material. Thanks, Mary!


Earlier today (April 10, 2013), reader Mary C. wrote to tell me about Roger Mouse's Wish. It is a Tiny Golden Book. I'm going to add these tiny books to my "find out more..." list! I'm pretty sure that I've seen them. Tiny is right... they measure 3 inches by 2 inches.

According to James Fox at the Simmons blog, all the books were written by Dorothy Kunhardt and illustrated by Garth Williams, and published around 1948. Here's the back and front cover for Roger Mouse's Wish:

Due to limits on how much of a text someone can use without getting permission of the publisher, I'm telling you what the book is about (based on what Mary sent me) and including a few excerpts. There are three characters: Roger Mouse, Mr. Mouse (his father) and Mrs. Mouse (his mother).

One day, Roger Mouse asks his mother for a blanket. He spreads it on a card table in their living room. He crawls under the card table and then hears his mother tell his father that she remembers how much fun she had playing house. Roger replies:

I'm not playing house," said Roger's voice. "I'm an Indian. This is my tepee."

The next day is Roger's birthday. There's a birthday cake for him. Mr. Mouse tells him to make a wish, and Mrs. Mouse tells him not to tell anyone what he wished for because it might not come true. Roger makes his wish and blows out the candles, and Mr. Mouse tells him there's a present for him "in front of his tepee." Here's that page:

The present, he exclaims is an "Indian suit!" He's quite happy and tries it on:

Wearing his Indian suit, he asks his father if he can tell his wish. His dad thinks it won't hurt, so he does:

As you can see, his wish was for an Indian suit.

That was a popular wish around that time...

Leo Politi, author of the flawed, award winning Song of the Swallows also wanted an Indian suit. He got one, too, as described in his 1951 book, Little Leo: 

Lot of playing Indian going around then... and years before then... and sadly, in the years since then, too!

Kunhardt is the author of Pat the Bunny and a gross book called Brave Mr. Buckingham, in which a guy dresses up like an Indian, and page by page, loses body parts until all that's left is his head. In a headdress. Williams did the illustrations for a whole slew of books including the Indians in Little House on the Prairie. 

I've looked and looked but can't find any illustrations of the inside of Roger Mouse's Wish. If you have a copy, please let me know! I'd like to know more about the story and see more of the illustrations. Thanks!

A great big thanks, Mary, for letting me know about the book, and then for taking time to type out the text and scan those pages! By the way, Mary wrote to me in response to an update to my post about the stereotypes in Little Golden Books. If you want to see them, here's the link: Stereotypes in Little Golden Books.

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