Margery Sharp and Miceventures
One out of a million: that’s Margery Sharp. She is the amazing writer who is very well known for her very first children’s book, The Rescuers. Never heard of her? Trust me. She is not invisible. She was born over a century ago, in early 1905.
Margery Sharp was born on January 25, 1905 in Wiltshire, England. She was the third child in her family. She attended Chiswick School in 1912 & 1913. In 1914, she started attending Streatham Hill High School in 1914-1923. After nine years in high school, she decided to attend Bedford College and take Intermediate Arts. She left college in June 1928. After that, she went to USA for the very first time. In 1930, she published her first book, Rhododendron Pie.
Today, Margery Sharp is not as popular as she was many years ago. After a while, her entertaining, and beautifully illustrated books seemed to be hidden behind the shelves, and sadly, she became relatively unknown, a long time after all the fabulous and fantastic books she wrote. In fact, if you ask anyone on the streets about Margery Sharp, they probably won’t know who she was. At my public library, there are just a few books written by Margery Sharp. You can barely even see them. Just because her books are not very popular doesn’t mean they aren’t entertaining and fun. Because right after you open the book, you will see what I mean.
Margery Sharp worked on The Rescuer series for 19 years, writing nine books. The Rescuers was the name of her first children’s book and it is the first book in the series, written in 1959. Now before I introduce you to the story The Rescuers, I want you to greet Miss Bianca – a beautiful, brave, elegant mouse; Bernard, a careful and conscientious, tiny little dude who cares deeply for the beautiful Miss Bianca, and finally, Nils – an adventurous little sailor mouse who is ready to go anywhere at the drop of a hat. The Rescuers is about these three mice, who go on an adventure, to a scary castle, known as the Black Castle. They go to the Black Castle to rescue a few prisoners. Now, that may sound easier to you because they are small and you cannot see them so well. But with the old scary guard outside, leaning on the door to the cages, it’s impossible to get through. After all, scary annoying cat Mamelouk is also blocking their way.
Why did Margery Sharp feature mice? I think she featured mice because young children always love mice. Now why do young children always love mice? Children always seem to wonder about these mysterious mice and how they get through adventures so easily. They are so small but they are so noticeable. I remember how, when I was little, I loved books with mice as main characters, because they always had adventures. Imagine being a tiny little mouse trying to get here and there and everywhere. I am always wondering about the life of a young mouse.
Today, there are so many books that include rodents, and some of them are made into movies. Pixar Animation made Ratatouille, and The Rescuers was made by Disney, in 1977. The Tales of Despereaux was also made into a movie that came out in 2008. Geronimo Stilton, a popular children’s book about mice, has also been made into cartoons and graphic novels.
Whenever I see mice, they just run away from me. But sometimes, I think they interact well, because the mice in The Rescuers had some good connection with humans. In The Mouse and the Motorcycle, by Beverly Cleary, the way Ralph had that super good connection with the little boy was because Ralph could talk. However, the reason Miss Bianca, Nils, and Bernard couldn’t talk with the prisoners was because they couldn’t understand them.
The mouse and human connection in Margery Sharp’s books are different. In Miss Bianca in The Salt Mines, the mice communicate with Teddy by letters and word of mouth; in other words, they can speak to Teddy, with their mouths. In The Rescuers, Nils, Bernard and Miss Bianca communicate by facial expressions and feelings.
Ratatouille is about a young mouse who dreams of being a chef. One day, he is able to cook by pulling hairs in a chef’s hat. The mouse communicates with the chef by controlling his mind, facial expressions, and cooking.
How does this differ from The Rescuers and Miss Bianca and Bernard’s interactions with the children they rescue? In Miss Bianca and The Salt Mines, Miss Bianca and Bernard go to the salt mines to save Teddy, the eight year old stuck inside. They communicate differently because Teddy pretty much knows that they are coming. He writes letters to Miss Bianca asking for help. At least he thinks they are on the way to rescue him. In Ratatouille, the rat uses facial expressions. Sad or happy, Yes or No. So Ratatouille‘s human and mice communication is used with facial expressions, mind control and cooking, while Miss Bianca and The Salt Mines communicate through writing.
Geronimo Stilton is a series of books with mice everywhere. Everything is mice-sized. Even ordinary humans and lizards are the size of a mouse. The way Geronimo Stilton talks with human is by word of mouth. In the Geronimo Stilton series, mice and human act like they are part of the same family. They act like they are the all the exact same animal. They treat each other the way we would treat our friends today. The difference with The Rescuers series, is that Miss Bianca is the size of an ordinary mouse, who is treated like a very special person.
I think that mice and humans communicate with each other in stories because the mice can always talk or they always know the people by facial expressions. And Margery Sharp, a great writer, will not be forgotten.