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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
Mr Miniscule and the Whale
by Julian Tuwim
Age Range: 6-8
Mr Miniscule is, as his name suggests, very, very, very tiny. In fact, he is half the size of a coffee bean. Despite his size, he loves to explore and has travelled far and wide, but he still has one ambition left: to see a big blue whale.
“Mr Miniscule could barely wait
to get himself afloat,
and so, from half a walnut shell,
he built himself a boat.”
Mr Miniscule packs all his provisions and catches a butterfly plane to fly to the nearest port where he sets off on his voyage of adventure. For two months he sails the sea without any sight of a whale. When at last he espies land he decides to have a rest before returning home. Will Mr Miniscule finally achieve his wish of seeing a big blue whale after all?
This timeless Polish children’s classic by Julian Tuwim (1894-1953) is now available in English for the first time. Tuwim was one of Poland’s leading poets and his rhymes for children are known to every Polish child. Poetry is one of the hardest types of literature to translate and Antonia Lloyd-Jones has done an impressive job with the witty English rhyming text.
The illustrations by Bohdan Butenko, one of Poland’s top illustrators and cartoonists, whose drawings appear in more than 200 children’s books, are in a mixed medium of pen-and-ink, watercolour and crayon. The encompassing shades of blue, dashes of bright yellow and a clever use of space on an empty cream background make them incredibly evocative. Butenko’s illustrations compliment the amusing rhyme making Mr Miniscule an endearing character. This is a lovely picture book that children are sure to enjoy and want to read again and again.