Prather’s Pick: Author Jan Brett offers ‘treasure’ of a book
August 7, 2018
Jan Brett, author of numerous books for children, is known for her enchanting stories and incredibly detailed and realistic artwork. Brett travels around the world studying various locations for her stories.
"Jan Brett's Animal Treasury" is a book of four stories she previously published. The stories have four settings, including tropical and Arctic. Two of the stories are retellings of classics.
The first story is "Town Mouse, Country Mouse," which Brett wrote in 1994. In the story, a town mouse wakes up one morning and tells his wife he's tired of having dreams about the kitchen cat. He wants to take a picnic lunch into the country where he grew up. So they pack up a lunch and head for the country.
The mice set their lunch out on a picnic cloth and start talking about how nice it would be to live in the country. A country mouse and his wife are out and about, and they overhear the conversation. They have always wanted to live in the city. So the four mice get together and trade homes.
However, the mice soon learn that life is not what they expected it to be. The story ends with a twist.
The artwork for this story is exquisite. The mice, owl, and cat characters wear splendid costumes, with lots of intricate detail and accessories, such as beads and designed buttons. Brett is known for the artwork that appears on the margins of the pages, sometimes even giving the reader hints as to what he or she wouldn't otherwise know.
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In this book, for example, while the country mice are settling into their new home, the cat is in the kitchen cooking up sausage. It's in the margin.
"The Three Snow Bears," the final story in the treasury, is a retelling of "Goldilocks and the Three Bears," except the main character is Aloo-ki, and the setting is the cold and snowy Arctic.
When a piece of ice comes loose from an ice floe, the girl's dog team is on it, and they head out to sea. In her efforts to rescue the dogs, Aloo-ki comes upon an enormous igloo with several rooms. She goes into the bears' home, and the plot pretty much follows that of the well-known fairy tale. It ends with a surprise.
This story is also beautifully-illustrated, with lots of detail included in the bears' clothing.
The other two stories in the book are just as charming.
"Jan Brett's Animal Treasury" is a winner — for adults, too. It costs $29.99 in hardcover, and you can also find it in the children's room at the Craig branch of Moffat County Libraries. The book was published in 2017 by G.P. Putnam's Sons.