by Margaret Sharp

New York Review Children’s Books, $14.95, 152 pages

The Rescuers, originally published in 1959 is an adventure story, about mice of the Prisoner’s Aid Society (Miss. Bianca, Nils, and Bernard) who go off on a dangerous mission to rescue a young Norwegian poet imprisoned in  the gloomy Black Castle.   This 2011 New York Review Children’s Collection reprint presents a fresh attractive cover and includes original illustrations by Garth Williams, Little House on the Prairie and Charlotte’s Web.  This book is the first in the Rescuers children’s series (1959 – 1978) written by English author Margery Sharp.  On the spectrum of mice adventure stories it ranks much closer in intensity and content to Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh by Robert C. O’Brien, rather than Stuart Little by E.B. White, also illustrated by Williams.  The dialogue between Miss. Bianca and Bernard alone warrants it classic status in children’s literature.   While dated in its portrayal of women, prisons, and poetry it has value in that it addresses tough subjects such as guilt and innocence, crime and punishment in an accessible way.  Parents may want to discuss these topics with their children as they read the book. Recommended reading for most children 9 – 15 years old because of both reading level and subject matter.

Catherine McMullen