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What I'm Reading Wednesday: The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Happy Wednesday, My Lovelies!  Today I'm reading the most delightful children's book: The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine by Mark Twain and Philip Stead with illustrations by Erin Stead.

Your home library needs this book!  And, quite frankly, you should buy it for the young readers in your life for Christmas.  {I'm here.  To.  Help!}  Grandparents!  Are you paying attention?

You might be asking yourself how in the world did Mark Twain collaborate with Philip Stead in writing this book.  I don't want to give away many spoilers because the book explains how it was written, but I'll give you a little bit of the story.  The University of California at Berkley has guardianship of Mark Twain's papers.  An academic back East discovered an outline for a children's story in error as he was working on a different Twain-related project (it's a fun story).  Doubleday Books (an imprint of Random House) bought the rights for the story's outline from the Mark Twain House and Museum.  The publisher then had the good sense to hire Philip Stead to write the story from Twain's notes and Erin Stead to illustrate it.

Twain often told his daughters stories in the evenings.  The girls would find a picture in a magazine, and that would be the prompt for the night's story.  This story about Johnny stemmed from one of these tales and is believed to be the only outline Twain ever wrote down from these stories.

This is a sweet tale about a kingdom not in the United States of America where roads are paved.  Its setting is a kingdom with one road: at one end is the king's castle, and at the other end, our hero Johnny's pitiful home with his mean grandfather.  As with the best fairytales, there are fairies, dragons, magic seeds, giants, and talking animals.  Johnny's adventures are entertaining as he meets the most intriguing characters in his search for Prince Oleomargarine.  The narrative is interrupted by conversation between Mark Twain and Philip Stead as they enjoy tea and coffee on Beaver Island, Michigan.  These interruptions only add to the charm of the story.  But honestly you should buy the book strictly for Erin Stead's illustrations.  They are as beautiful as they are enchanting.

I didn't know that dragons enjoy arguing until I read this book.

I forgot to tell you about the chicken.  Her name is Pestilence and Famine.

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill


  1. Thank you for sharing. Not only will my boys enjoy this book, I will too!

  2. Why have I never heard of this book? It looks amazing! I hope I can find a copy! Enjoy your day my friend. Hugs!

  3. This sounds so fun!
    Pestilence and famine? that's a perfect name for a chicken! haha!
    I'm going to look for this right away, thank you:)

  4. Nice to meet you Ricki Jill and I may have to get this book for my 9 year old Grandson. And, I read in your profile that you have a daughter at our dear state flagship university, LSU. Our daughter graduated from LSU as well. All the best! Looking forward to a fun time with the TTT's.

  5. How fun and funny Ricki Jill! I love the title, and the illustrations are fantastic! This sounds like a fun book for the parents to enjoy also, thanks for the recommendation!


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Hello, Lovelies!

I'm Ricki Jill. Welcome! I'm honored that you're reading my blog. I enjoy sharing my creative lifestyle @ The Bookish Dilettante. For more information about my blog, please read the Start Here page. Thank-you for stopping by, and I hope you'll consider following me via email.


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