Wednesday, September 23, 2009

vintage children's book: the butterfly ball & the grasshopper's feast

the butterfly ball and the grasshopper's feast

dust jacket/cover

this week's picture book is the butterfly ball and the grasshopper's feast, from 1973. illustrated by alan aldridge and with verses by william plomer, it's loosely based on the poem of the same name by william roscoe, but is more focused on the animals' preparations for the ball.

esmerelda, seraphina and camilla

esmerelda, seraphina & camilla

the incredible illustrations by alan aldridge bring the verses to life. according to wikipedia he was apparently inspired when he "read that john tenniel had told lewis carroll it was impossible to draw a wasp in a wig." aldridge's work really deserves a post all of its own, he was responsible for many great album covers, and helped create the graphic style of that era. wikipedia says 'his work was characterised by a flowing, cartoony style and soft airbrushing - very much in step with the psychedelic styles of the times.'



"this is the tale of the summer's day, deep in the woods of england, when the butterflies and grasshoppers invited all the creatures of air and land to a ball and feast. from st michael's mount, windsor, rye, salisbury, tintern abbey and the far corners of britain they came - moles, gnats, dormice, newts, shrews, caterpillars, moths, frogs, squirrels, spiders, toads, mice, bees, flies, worms, centipedes, hares, hedgehogs, otters, and foxes. setting out in johnson's spinner trains, hot-air balloons, stagecoaches, and on foot, most arrive - some fall foul of bats, stoats, wasps, and foxes and don't! beneath the broad oak tree the butterflies and guests dance the evening away, feasting and merrymaking until the glow-worms light up and lead the weary guests back to their beds."

harlequin hare

harlequin hare

you may remember a few weeks ago i featured the animated music clip "love is all" that was made in 1974 by roger glover, based on the song love's all you need mentioned in this book. this was supposed to lead to a full length animated film, and glover had written a full soundtrack that became the butterfly ball album, but the film was never made.

shelly snail

shelly snail & swallowtail

there are also two other books based on the sequels: the peacock party and the lion's cavalcade. there are many more gorgeous illustrations in 'the butterfly ball' but these tiny images just don't do them justice. i urge you to find yourself a copy of The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper's Feast and pour over the amazing work.. its a grasshopper's feast for the eyes.

wouldn't it be amazing to have a butterflies ball themed party? who do you think you would dress as?

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