Reading/Interest Level: Toddler, Preschool, Primary
Author: Deborah Hopkinson
Illustrator: Charlotte Voake
Publisher: Schwartz & Wade
Young Beatrix Potter loves animals and has quite the collection. In fact, she has a whole menagerie, the extent of which is likely unknown to her parents. Despite the several that die in her care, Beatrix believes herself capable of caring for any animal. However, that theory is tested when she asks to borrow her neighbor Miss Paget’s guinea pig, Queen Elizabeth, to make sketches. Accompanying the story are beautiful yet simple watercolor illustrations that both engage and delight the reader.
In this book, Hopkinson and Voake manage to capture not only this story of Potter’s childhood, but also the very essence of her life and writing. The theme and plot of this simple story are actually quite morbid as it discusses all the animals that Potter accidentally killed in her childhood, but it is written in a lighthearted voice that is reminiscent Potter’s own writing. This story is also written in the form of a picture letter because that was the form originally used in the writing of Potter’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit. The beauty of Potter’s style is further captured in the watercolor illustrations inspired by Potter’s own use of watercolor in her book. Fans of The Tale of Peter Rabbit are sure to love this endearing tale of its author.