June is the traditional month for brides, but three children's picture books make this the season for brides of another kind: a mouse, a vacuum cleaner and a spider. In these new books, all witty and with compelling art, creatures are involved in the loveliest of love-affairs.
THE MOUSE BRIDE by Joy Cowley (Scholastic, $13.95) is based on a traditional theme in literature, hating to be what you are. " `Small and weak! Small and weak! How I wish that I were strong!' But no amount of crying would change her. A mouse she was, and a mouse she would stay."The small mouse goes on a quest to find the strongest spouse. In her searching she asks the sun, a cloud, the wind and a house who each admit their vulnerability and in the end she finds someone stronger than each of the four.
David Christiana's watercolor and pencil illustrations are magnificent to enhance the simple repetition of the text. The minute details of mouse in wedding veil on two-page spreads of a cloud, the wind, a tractor and a door frame are masterfully placed to accent the comparisons. This deliciously funny story should delight younger readers who will make it a favorite to hear time and time again.
HOOVER'S BRIDE by David Small (Crown, $16). Hoover's old house was in need of repairs and cleaning, to say the least. The dust was so thick it:
"trickled down in delicate rills,
But soon mounted up into generous hills.
While Hoover relaxed with the TV cartoons,
Little by little, those hills became dunes."
When a lady introduced him to a vacuum cleaner, Hoover, now reformed, fell on his knees and proposed . . . to the machine named Elektra.
After buying her a grapefruit-sized diamond (to fit the end of her hose!), arranging a wedding where the priest pronounced them "man and appliance" and holding a gala reception, Hoover took his bride to the coast and quickly leveled the beach of sand.
But the honeymoon was not a complete fiasco because Hoover met a lady whose husband was a lawn mower!
Alas! The inevitable happens: Elektra runs away with the lawn mower and Hoover and the lady meet again at the Bureau of Missing Persons. Another proposal and wedding transpire.
A happy ending? Indeed yes! "Hoover and the bride are happy together. She loves to mow, while his bliss is to clean . . . "
The third wedding is of an unflappable arachne vulgaris florivora (flower-eating spider). She was introduced last year in "Miss Spider's Tea Party" which made a splash in publisher's circles with outstanding sales, Miss Spider tea parties, games, prizes and windows.
MISS SPIDER'S WEDDING by David Kirk (Scholastic, $15.95) smacks of the romance carried in traditional and classical literature: woman meets dashing and eligible - yet crafty - man who proposes marriage, is jilted and seeks revenge on the true, yet rival lover. True love prevails.
Holly is invited to tea by Miss Spider and:
"They talked of all their dreams and hopes
Of art and nature, love and fate.
They peered through toy kaleidoscopes
And murmured throughts I shan't relate . . . "
So the romance begins. But the friends - insects, bugs and spider friends - think Holly is not appropriate at all, "His web is coarse and slovenly with clothes strewn allabout . . . " and introduce her to a more suitable suitor, Spiderus Reeves.
This dashing character proposes marriage on the spot and sulks when Miss Spider refuses. When Holly tries to save Miss Spider, Spiderus catches him in a web, snarling his threats.
True love does win out!
The couplet poetry that moves this story along could be tedious is it weren't for Kirk's resplendent drawings. Bold and iridescent color are flung across the pages portraying what reviewers have called "eye-popping color." And so it is!
While the story is much fun and children will adore this love match in the world of bug town, the artist himself is a study in determination.
Kirk, always good with making toys and furniture (he has owned two toyworks of one-of-a-kind toys), never commercially pursued his talent in painting. "I didn't want to go begging at galleries. I didn't want the whole rejection thing," he said in an interview with the New York Times. His toys were spotted by an editor from Rizzoli, the art-book publishers who were venturing into CD-ROM products.
So the quirky creatures are evidently headed for cyberspace.