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The Animal Family

The Animal Family

Book - 1965
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This is the story of how, one by one, a man found himself a family. Almost nowhere in fiction is there a stranger, dearer, or funnier family--and the life that the members of The Animal Family live together, there in the wilderness beside the sea, is as extraordinary and as enchanting as the family itself.

Publisher: [New York] : Pantheon Books, [c1965]
ISBN: 9780062050885
Characteristics: 179 p. : ill. ; 18 cm
Additional Contributors: Sendak, Maurice


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FindingJane Jun 18, 2014

In gentle, coaxing tones, Mr. Jarrell invites the reader to believe in an impossible family. How this extraordinary family comes together, how they stay together in spite of obvious difficulties (you wonder how a full-grown bear can continue to come into a house and sit by the table), you are made to believe in the presence of a mermaid, a lonely hunter and the beings they gradually acquire around them who live in the harmony of their home. When an orphaned boy is added to the mix, his presence is just as acceptable and yet magical as that of any of the others.

The cover states that the book is “decorated” by the celebrated Maurice Sendak and that is a good description. There are no pictures of the protagonists, only superbly drawn pictures of nature, a fitting rendition of the world these characters inhabit.

It is not a heartwarming tale, as such. It is wistful story, one that makes the heart yearn, for amity and unity like this, for a family imperfect and perfectly whole as that of a bear, lynx, boy and mermaid.


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