Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Tailor of Gloucester by Beatrix Potter

First published October 1903
59 pages, 28 color illustrations

The tailor of Gloucester has an important commission this Christmas. He is to make a coat and waistcoat for the mayor's Christmas Day wedding. A spiteful cat hinders the tailor's progress, but helpful mice make the coat and save the day.

The History Behind the Tale:
The Tailor of Gloucester grew out of a story Beatrix Potter heard while visiting a cousin in Gloucestershire. Though the tailor didn't know it, his helpers in the real story were his own assistants. He attributed the making of the coat to fairies. Needless to say, the story tickled Beatrix's fancy.

In December 1901, Potter wrote and illustrated her own version of the story as a gift for Freda Moore, another of her former governess's children. That manuscript had twelve illustrations (Linder 113). Potter then decided to have the story privately printed. She knew her publisher would want to delete some of the rhymes from the story and she wanted it published exactly as she pictured it. The private edition was printed in December 1902 and had sixteen illustrations (Linder 114). Potter believed the story would appeal more to older children (Linder 116). F. Warne & Co. published The Tailor of Gloucester in October 1903 with twenty-eight illustrations and only six of the twenty rhymes from the privately printed edition.

My Thoughts: As much as I like mice and Christmas, The Tailor of Gloucester is not one of my favorite tales. I think perhaps because it is so different from Peter Rabbit and Squirrel Nutkin. The natural world isn't featured much in this tale. However, it's still a charming story. The illustrations are particularly fine. I find it interesting that they are set off with black lines and square or rectangle in shape. As such, these illustrations are unlike the ones in Peter Rabbit and Squirrel Nutkin.

Favorite Illustrations:
-Mouse reading newspaper (cover)
-Mouse tailor fitting jackets (11)
-Lady mouse with magnifying glass (12)
-Lady mouse curtsying (24)
-Cat in coat and boots (31)

Activities:
-Sewing
-Christmas carols/rhymes
-Find the mouse (hide a toy mouse under tea cups)
-Mouse, Mouse, Cat game (like Duck, Duck, Goose)
-Simpkin, Simpkin, where's your mouse? game (like doggy and the bone)
-Visit the official Peter Rabbit Website to make a Tailor of Gloucester spinner (Fun & Games--Make & Do)

Favorite Words: lappets, taffeta, snippet

I hope you've enjoyed my discussion of The Tailor of Gloucester. Next week, I'll be exploring The Tale of Benjamin Bunny, sequel to Peter Rabbit.

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