Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Martha B. Rabbit (This post is for Pom :)

I promised Pom I'd do a post about Shirley Barber, children's book author and illustrator. Here's Barber's website. Readers, if there is one book in my collection of children's books that my two girls would probably fight over, and resort to violence over, it's this book. Except, well, I'm never letting it out of the house! We all adore it.
Our copy is HUGE -- about 20" tall by 9" wide. Hard board cover. Barber is the best of the best, right up there with Richard Scarry, Garth Williams and Maurice Sendak, in my opinion. I love her borders -- reminiscent of Tasha Tudor a bit.
Martha B. Rabbit is a kind rabbit lady who lives in an apple tree house in the forest. She takes in stray kittens, hungry deer, and lost elves.
She meets up with some very mean rats.
She is frightened by a hungry fox.
But Martha prevails, and finds work in a guest house for fairies and pixies, run by Mr. Gnome!

There are three stories in this book: "The Fairies' Cook," "Daphne the Forgetful Duck," and "The Unexpected Guests."
The kindly herb woman and her boat, help to retrieve the lost ducklings.
Martha and her friend Tabitha Cat enjoy their home in the forest.
This is my favorite picture:  a full spread, edge-edge of a picnic in the forest with all the animals. Note the toadstool tables. Shirley Barber's attention to detail is her forte: birds delivering letters, little inchworms with woolen scarves around their necks, mullioned windows in the tree houses, elves that play "Chutes and Ladders" in the dark, winter evenings, beneath robins with red vests around their middles.
I wish you could see them all, up close.

If you ever have the chance to buy Barber's books, I highly recommend them.


  1. Hi MK! Of course I love this post! Love all the cozy interiors and the industrious home keeping! I shall look for some Shirley Barber at my local used book store. THANK YOU!

  2. You're welcome, dear! You might also find them on amazon. I think I got some of mine on ebay, years ago. Happy shopping!

  3. The Shirley Barber fairy book is on its why to me! I'm going to look at the website, too. Are you doing okay?

  4. Hi, I hope you are able to answer this. Which story is the fairies illustration in? I remember it from my childhood and have been looking for it for years, but the books are scarce in the UK. Thanks!

    1. I think the fairies dancing picture is from the first of the three stories in that particular volume, and I think the story is called "Martha B. Rabbit and the Fairies' Cook." I hope that helps!


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