Fuse 8 n’ Kate: Matilda, Who Told Lies and Was Burned to Death by Hilaire Belloc
As Halloween draws closer and closer, we delve deeper and deeper into the macabre. We kicked off the month of October with Edward Gorey. Now we’re following him up with his spiritual cousin, none other than Hilaire Belloc himself. We’re looking at two different editions of the Struwwelpeter-inspired (surely) poem Matilda, Who Told Lies and Was Burned to Death. One edition, illustrated by Steven Kellogg, was produced in 1970. The other, created in 1991 (and originally published in Great Britain), illustrated by Posy Simmonds, is the far tamer titled picture book Matilda: Who told such Dreadful Lies . . . (note that the original title is on the title page, not the cover). A lot can change in the intervening 20 years, and so we compare the two editions, their oddities and similarities, and come to the almost certain conclusion that Hilaire Belloc was . . . quite the interesting fella. But are these good books? That is the real question.
Special thanks to Stephanie Lucianovic for the suggestion!
Here’s where I’ll be interviewing Tom Felton. If you’d like to attend and you live in the Chicago area, you can go here and do so.
One aspect of these two very different editions that we found interesting was the level of accuracy when it comes to depicting their era. For example, while we often found the Steven Kellogg title to be filled with far more delightful details, the Posy Simmonds (which originally published in England) seemed to edge a bit more towards historical accuracy. Here we see the current rulers in both editions:
And here’s an example of the two different types of phones (with the image Kate was using for reference):
Here too are the two different kinds of transportation the firefighters take to Matilda’s home:
When we discuss the level of detail in the Kellogg version, this is a fairly good example of what we mean. Please note the sign on this page telling the firefighters not to take lit cigars to bed:
The Time Traveler: Here is our 12 Monkeys fellow who looks as though he’s livestreaming Matilda’s pseudo-fire.
The degree of attention/destruction on the part of the firefighters is fascinating.
Note that in both cases, the fire is (A) accidental and (B) started by a small furry animal. One may show more animosity than the other, though . . .
Finally, we come to the end of the book. Could you find two editions that differ more tonally than these?
Betsy Recommends: Reservation Dogs on Hulu
Kate Recommends: Getting your mammogram done!
Filed under: Fuse 8 n' Kate
About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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