Janet Charters; Illustrated by Michael Foreman
I think it's so cool that today's publishing companies will occasionally reprint anniversary editions of terrific books that truly deserve a fresh run. Random House reprinted Little Blue and Little Yellow just last year, opening a whole new set of eyes to this classic. And now thanks to Candlewick Press, we can celebrate Michael Foreman's debut picture book, originally published in 1961. I had no idea this book existed, and I'm so thankful that I was around for the reissue.
General Jodhpur was out riding in the country one morning, when he was suddenly thrown from his mount. Luckily for him, he landed uninjured upon on an expanse of soft grass. Instead of rising immediately, the general began to appreciate his surroundings. He was startled to realize how beautiful the forest was, and the abundance of wildlife that roamed the land. As he walked on, he discovered field mice and squirrels, many types of birds and bees lazily buzzing through fields of wonderful flowers. The general was spellbound by what he had previously failed to notice.
The strange happenings in General Jodhpur's country spread around the world. Two important generals contacted him, asking if they could see for themselves these incredible changes. When the generals visited and saw how content his people were and how beautiful his lands were, they declared General Jodhpur "the most famous general in the whole world." So he did achieve his original goal, but in a vastly different way!
Obviously, the book was written with the intended message that peace triumphs over war. I don't care for preachy books, but this one manages to avoid that path while still presenting its point of view. Glorious, wonderful watercolors from Michael Foreman clearly show why this book was chosen to be reissued as a 50th Anniversary Edition. The scans above just don't do justice to how beautiful the pages appear when held in your hands; the illustration are bold and luminous, not washed out or dull. This book really is a "Celebration of Peace and Beauty" - both in written word and by brush stroke.
Review copy provided by Candlewick Press.