Tracey's Reviews > Miss Bianca

Miss Bianca by Margery Sharp
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's review
Nov 22, 2007

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bookshelves: re-read, silver-screen, talk-with-the-animals, ya
Read on February 19, 2015

Thanks to a thoughtful Valentine's Day gift, I've been revisiting one of my favorite childhood book series - the Miss Bianca series by Margery Sharp. After seeing the 1977 Disney film based on these books (The Rescuers), I got the first 5 books as Christmas and birthday gifts and nearly read the words off the pages. While my original copies are probably long gone, my husband found copies of the Dell Yearling paperbacks with the Garth Williams illustrations, and I spent a couple pleasant hours reacquainting myself with the stories.

The 1977 animated Disney film owes a bit more to this book than the one it shares a title with, as both feature a young orphan girl being the object of rescue from a cruel, rich woman obsessed with diamonds.

But instead of being set in the swamps, the orphan Patience (not Penny) is held by the evil Diamond Duchess in her palace, and then in a remote hunting lodge, from which Bernard and Miss Bianca must free her, with an exciting bloodhound chase providing the climax of the story. I remember thinking the clockwork ladies in waiting were kind of creepy as a child; now I see them as a steampunk element!

There's definitely a formula to these books; but the details of each prisoners' situation, along with the trials and tribulations the two mice face, manage to keep things somewhat fresh. Miss Bianca is easily the star of these novels, with Bernard playing the (usually) loyal sidekick. The supporting cast of characters vary from book to book, but are sufficiently well-drawn to fulfill their roles. The objects of rescue are a little less-well-defined; and the villains are also somewhat two-dimensional. The Garth Williams illustrations are utterly charming and add to the book's appeal.

The style of writing is a bit dated, and rather British at times; but its gentle humour and generally engaging plotlines make these books good candidates for late elementary readers who enjoy "talking animal" stories with a bit of adventure thrown in. Miss Bianca is a fairly good role model; despite being a mouse of class and breeding, she demonstrates intelligence, loyalty and bravery throughout the series. I quite enjoyed revisiting this series and may pass them along to my nieces (and/or nephews) at some point.

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Reading Progress

02/19/2015 marked as: currently-reading
02/21/2015 marked as: read

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