THREE JOVIAL HUNTSMEN by Susan -- Adapt. & Illus. Jeffers


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There were three jovial huntsmen,/ As I have heard men say,/ And they would go a-hunting/ Upon St. David's Day. . . ."" Jeffers' text is shorter and -- without the archaic British colloquialisms -- more immediately accessible than the version used by Caldecott, but her pictures are far less direct and their humor sly instead of hearty. Instead of impelling readers from one mobile page to the next, she compels them to pause, drawing the eye into each double-page scene where variously hidden fine-line animals blend into the predominantly gray-toned backgrounds. There are ducks in the rushes, rabbits nestled among gnarled tree roots, owls and possums and raccoons in the night branches, and even deer among the birch trees; but none of them are observed by the hunters who see only a sailing-ship in the wind, the moon a-gliding, a hedgehog in a bramble bush, and a hare in a turnip -- all of which they leave behind for reasons that the pictures tell. Beneath the chilly, subtly-colored surface loveliness there's more foxy play than substance in Jeffers' hidden pictures, but lovely they surely are, and foxy fun as well.

Pub Date: Nov. 19th, 1973
Publisher: Bradbury