Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Little Juggler by Barbara Cooney

This is The Little Juggler (of Our Lady). It's a story many of you will know I'm sure. It is based on a 13th century French manuscript that tells the tale of orphan and street juggler Barnaby who becomes a monk. Discovering that he has nothing to give the Virgin Mary as a gift during the spring festival he juggles for her instead (you may by now be realising this is basically the same story as The Little Drummer Boy) which the monks think is outrageous and he gets into a whole heap of trouble and needless to say the Blessed Virgin herself comes to his aid and the moral of the story is happily asserted that even the smallest offering made sincerely is worthwhile. 

The story was popularised in the 1890s by Anatole France and this version is often described as an 'adaptation' of his story. In fact, Barbara Cooney who provides both text and illustrations made her own adaptation of the story direct from the medieval source. It's a delightful book and the illustrations are in both colour and black and white but the colour ones, some of which are reproduced here have such an incredible vibrancy in just blue, red and green that I just had to share them.

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