Giving thanks for The Happy Hunter

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This is the time of year we count our blessings. But what does a tasty turkey, rabbit, pheasant, or other edible creature have to be thankful for at Thanksgiving?

The Happy Hunter, that’s what!

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Mr. Bobbin is the “Happy Hunter” whom discovers that he just can’t kill anything. His failed attempts at hunting take him on leisurely walks where he befriends the animals he meets along the way.

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The Happy Hunter (1961) was written and illustrated by Roger Duvoisin, the beloved Caldecott-winning author/illustrator of PetuniaThe Happy Lion, and many other picture books.

Like the Happy Hunter, Duvoisin lived an idyllic rural life (with his wife and fellow writer, Louise Fatio) on a farm in New Jersey — described by his granddaughter as a “magical place to visit.” His love of animals and nature shines through here, as it does in so many of his books.

This is a gently told story, and Duvoisin captures that child-like innocence he is so well known for. What child can’t relate to the feeling that animals are meant to be loved, not eaten?

“There’s a child in every adult, and when that child dies, it’s a death for the adult too. So I do these books for my own pleasure as much as for the children’s pleasure. LouLou and I write for the children we were.” Roger Duvoison

I think children today would really relate to this picture book — too bad it’s out of print and hard to find (I scooped this copy up for a song at a school book sale).

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The Happy Hunter was selected by the New York Times as one of its illustrious “best-illustrated” picture books of the year — and you can see why.

If you like mid-century modern, there is much to feast your eyes on here. I am especially drawn to the colour palate of warm, earthy, nature-inspired tones, like olive green, pumpkin and mustard yellow — and those gorgeous blues.

I might just forgo turkey this year, and enjoy a hearty meal of pancakes. Really, it doesn’t matter what you eat at Thanksgiving…as long as you eat with someone you love.

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Happy Thanksgiving to one and all.

p.s. little children are kindred spirits to the Happy Hunter — here is the now-famous video of the boy who prefers animals to be “standing up” and not on his plate.

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More on Roger Duvoisin at Fishink, a talented illustrator/designer in his own right.

9 comments

  1. An update to this story — I just discovered that The Happy Hunter is actually a New York Times “best-illustrated” picture book! And I’ve seen a few reasonably priced copies (as well as some expensive collector copies) for sale online. Happy (book) hunting!

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