Last month I warned I might revisit Roger Duvoisin’s work in picture books. So, here are two more of his books from my shelves: Donkey-donkey (1940) and Petunia (1950).
Unlike A Child’s Garden of Verses, these two books are authored by Duvoisin as well. His writing style matches his illustrations – light and delightful.
The themes are similar – animals wanting to better themselves somehow and making themselves and others suffer for it. Silly animals.
Using animals to upstage human folly is common in literature. Duvoisin’s squiggly images help us laugh at the situations such foolish creatures get themselves into.
Donkey-donkey is a happy donkey until he starts comparing himself to Pat, the horse.
He becomes dissatisfied with his big donkey ears and gets advice from everyone else at the farm on what to do about it.
As we expect, he comes around to accepting his ears and going back to his happy donkey life.
Petunia is literally a silly goose. She finds a book and has heard that ‘He who owns Books and loves them is wise,’ so she picks up the book and carries it around with her, feeling very wise indeed.
Petunia’s pride in her new-found wisdom leads her to mis-advise all the other animals at the farm.
This causes misery and mayhem.
She is too busy being wise to notice until the situation becomes explosive.
At this point she notices the book has something in it, namely pages, with words on them that she cannot read. Now she understands, ‘It was not enough to carry wisdom under my wing, I must put it in my mind an in my heart. and to do that I must learn to read.”
Be true to yourself.
Wisdom only comes from books if you use them correctly.
If a goose can learn to read, so can you.
Good lessons at any age.