“When your father is Mark Twain, it’s not too much to expect a well-told bedtime story every night.” Immediate images come to mind of Twain charming his daughters with the wonder of his storytelling. The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine is a project that grew out of such a bedtime ritual. Once while in a Paris hotel, Twain’s daughters Clara and Susy made such a request. The jumping off point for the storyline came from Clara who selected a drawing from a magazine ( the figure of a boy) and then declared, “We’re ready Papa!” For five nights this bedtime routine continued, focusing on that figure of a boy he named Johnny. At some point Twain wrote down 16 pages of notes. Those notes, recently discovered, led to this children’s book, created when Philip and Erin Stead were brought on board to piece together and finish this tender, touching, and utterly compelling story using Twain’s notes. The results speak volumes of their talent. For example, where in children’s literature can you find the words “perpetuity, cacophony, skedaddled, and discombobulation” used on the same page? Philip Stead did a most spectacular job of getting inside Twain’s head. What a formidable job. Accompanying the writing are beautiful, frameable illustrations by Erin Stead which help Twain’s story take shape. The Steads finished their task brilliantly.
- See pg. 19 the illustration of Pestilence and Famine, one chicken with two names
- Read pg. 111, the king’s response to the purloining
- See pg. 113, illustration of the queen’s response to the purloining
- Pg.120 “There followed now a moment of bumfuzzlement inside the hollow sitting room of the little king’s noggin.”
- Read Chapter 10, The Witnesses Testify
Nora and Lucy,
Once upon a time there were two little girls named Susy and Clara who wanted dad to tell them a bedtime story. . . . turn the pages and read on.
Gift with: book selections from Philip and Erin Stead
Gift to: admirers of Mark Twain, english teachers, art teachers, or art students.
Occasion: someone who needs a good book to read.