Entertaining children's book
about an Amnesty International
-like club of mice, called The Prisoner's Aid Society
and their daring rescue of an unnamed Norwegian poet
from the Black Castle, a notorious prison
set in what seems to be the Balkans
. (Huckleberry Finn
fans will appreciate this
The star of this book is Miss Bianca, a brown-eyed white mouse with a silver chain around her neck, who lives in a Porcelain Pagoda in a diplomat's residence, and travels by diplomatic pouch. The very model of a Society Lady of the time, nowadays, she sounds very much like either Miss Piggy or a female impersonator. Nonetheless, she is incredibly charming...her not-so-secret weapon in any and all circumstances.
This book is interesting to adults for many reasons: its Cold War view of international politics, its witty, sexist dialogue, and last, but not least, its startling illustrations by Garth Williams. Anyone used to his other work, all warm furry animals and gentle people, will be stunned by the nightmarish drawings of Mameluk, the Head Jailer's cat, the drunken, sleeping, guard, and the prisoner's progress from half-mad inmate to good-looking young man. I wouldn't recommend it for children right now, but otherwise...