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The Tailor Of Gloucester (Illustrated) Kindle Edition
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When my children were small my dad brought some of her books for his grand daughter and they still passed me by as I thought talking animals rather twee. Luckily both my husband and my father read to the children and I agreed that the illustrations were lovely.
However I recently heard a radio programme about BP and this book especially. The story is almost true, as the tailor was ill while making the mayor's clothes, the only difference being that his apprentice secretly did the work.
It was the research that the young author undertook which most interested me. I enjoy all things to do with textiles and threads.
Beatrix spent time in a nearby museum sketching the clothes of the period and pulled a button off her coat so that she could watch a tailor sew it back on. She even asked him to sit on his table and used the sketch.So now I am a fan.
The story enchanted me then and it continues to enchant me. This is the Potter book I give to young children. It's lovely illustrations of tiny mice in beautiful dresses and waistcoats are a joy.
This is a beautiful fairy tale for 4+ years. In the eighteenth century, a poor and elderly tailor has a commission to make a gorgeous waistcoat and coat for the Mayor to be married in on Christmas Day. He cuts out all the cloth - I'm also a stitcher, and I enjoyed the lavish descriptions of the thread and fabric and plans for embroidery - then closes up his shop and staggers off home in the snow to bed, where he rages with fever for a number of days.
Simpkin, his fat tabby cat, is very cross, because the tailor has freed all the mice that he was keeping under teacups for his supper, so he hides the package of thread that is needed to finish the last buttonhole. The grateful mice however, round up all their friends and infiltrate the shop, where they do all the sewing themselves in tiny little mouse-stitches, while singing rude nursery rhymes about stupid cats. (Beatrix Potter has a great sense of humour.) Simpkin, who is prowling through the streets on Christmas Eve, hears them, as well as the songs of all the other animals of the city - because there's an old legend that animals can talk on Christmas Eve.
When the tailor's fever breaks, he wakes up on Christmas morning to find a very repentant Simpkin offering him a cup of tea (this is my favourite illustration in the whole book - when did you last see a cat looking repentant?), and is delighted to discover that all the work is done, apart from one buttonhole.
There's a poignancy to it, because it's a reminder of how incredibly hard life was in those days. And there are a number of beautiful pictures of little mice in ornate gowns and suits of the period.
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