Firefly in a Fir Tree: A Carol for Mice


When Hilary Knight discovered mice in his studio, he set about designing them a special outdoor home.

The mice had unique talents of their own. Maude, an expert needle-mouse, complemented Max's way with a hammer. Both shared a keen eye for found objects.

Mr. Knight's watercolor journal of this charming couple's enterprise, accompanied by ...

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When Hilary Knight discovered mice in his studio, he set about designing them a special outdoor home.

The mice had unique talents of their own. Maude, an expert needle-mouse, complemented Max's way with a hammer. Both shared a keen eye for found objects.

Mr. Knight's watercolor journal of this charming couple's enterprise, accompanied by Maude's daily notations, has become a joyous celebration of the Twelve Days of Christmas.

About the Author:

Hilary Knight, son of artist-writers Clayton Knight and Katherine Sturges, was born in Hempstead, Long Island and grew up in the town of Roslyn. When he was six the family moved to Manhattan where he has lived ever since. In the past twenty years he has maintained an apartment in the center of New York City which doubles as his studio and houses his collection of books, programs, and recordings of theatre and film music.

His first published work appeared in Mademoiselle magazine in 1952, followed by drawings in House and Garden, Good Housekeeping, and Gourmet magazines.

Mr. Knight has illustrated over fifty books, nine of which he also wrote. Besides books, his work has included note and greeting cards, children's fashion advertisings, illustrations for Cricket magazine, record album covers and posters for the Broadway musicals Half A Sixpence, Hallelujah Baby!, No, No Nanette, Irene, and Gypsy.

In this variation on the folk song, "The Twelve Days of Christmas," two mice enjoy such Christmas gifts as "nine nuts for nibbling" and "four holly berries."

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Originally published as part of a Christmas Nutshell Library, A Firefly in a Fir Tree: A Carol for Mice by Hilary Knight expands the borders with this hardcover edition and full-color rendition of "The Twelve Days of Christmas." A pair of loving mice alternately shower each other with gifts, shown in illustrated "photographs" with handwritten labels. Youngsters will enjoy the artist's attention to detail, along with visual clues to the contents of each successive present. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Using the traditional pattern of "A Partridge in a Pear Tree," Knight has constructed cumulative verses that describe the holiday gifts brought by a mouse named Max to his "true love" Maud. The artist sketches the house where Maud is writing the story as Max brings in the tree for which the firefly is the first decoration. Each day thereafter the couple are busy in the house cleaning, decorating, and welcoming guests for the holiday celebration. Max delivers each gift on the right-hand page; it is shown in use on the following left-hand page in a pinned-up picture complete with title. Good-natured humor abounds; for example, the two silver pins become chopsticks used to eat a fortune cookie complete with fortune. Ever the tease, Knight begins the visual narrative across the jacket/cover with someone (himself ?) peeking into the mouse house along with a bright-eyed cat. The half-title page shows Max ringing the doorbell holding the first present. Then, on the title page, the artist is at his drawing table surrounded by sketches and story props. The story of the two very lively, appealing mice engaged in their variety of activities then begins. The final look inside the crowded house offers a chance to try to count the gifts as they all enjoy "a simply wonderful time." It is fun to compare Knight's version with the original carol. 2004 (orig. 1963), HarperCollins Children's Books, Ages 4 to 8.
—Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1-In a newly illustrated version of a tale originally published in 1963 (HarperCollins; o.p.), two mice offer their own version of "The Twelve Days of Christmas," giving one another 2 silver (straight) pins, 3 thistle dusters, and finally 12 bees a-buzzing. The illustrations, in Knight's usual goofy and endearing style, take the form of "family photos" tacked onto each page, each with its own caption. As the gifts accumulate, the tiny house (furnished in Borrower style with thimbles and funnels and such) gets more and more crowded. Kids will be pleased to note that every single one of the 78 gifts is visible in the very last illustration. Energetic fun.-E. M. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060231903
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/1/1963

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