BERNELLY AND HARRIET by Elizabeth Dahlie


The Country Mouse and the City Mouse
by & illustrated by
Age Range: 4 - 8
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Dahlie (Henrietta, 1999) updates the classic Aesop fable with understated humor and delicately detailed watercolors. The reunion of the two very different cousins is sparked when Bernelly, a fly-fishing instructor who lives “west of the city in a small village that [has] everything a mouse could need—except a shoe shop,” discovers that her boot has “sprung a leak.” It’s the perfect excuse to visit Cousin Harriet in the city. A series of vignettes shows Bernelly, in knee-high black boots and jaunty red scarf, preparing for her journey. When she arrives at the station, Harriet, a famous artist dressed in periwinkle pumps and matching shawl, immediately sweeps her up: “ ‘Darling-Bernelly-so-good-to-see-you-I-have-missed-you-so,’ [she] said in all one breath.” This time, a series of vignettes shows the two traipsing all over town. By the time they find Bernelly’s boots, she’s exhausted. When Harriet asks if she now sees the superiority of city living, Bernelly snaps “No!” and invites Harriet to return to the country with her. “Perhaps it will inspire me,” says Harriet. But in scene after scene, Harriet appears hopeless. She tangles her line while fly-fishing, looks positively dismayed when Bernelly takes a nap under a tree, and appears bored to tears as the guests at Bernelly’s dinner party tell “tales of trout.” When Bernelly asks her what she thinks about life in the country, Harriet admits that it’s not quite her cup of tea. But she has found the inspiration she was seeking. The final illustration shows Harriet busily painting portraits of city landmarks. An endearing adaptation. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-316-60811-4
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2002