Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Country Artist: A Story about Beatrix Potter

The Country Artist: A Story about Beatrix Potter

David R. Collins
Illustrator:  Karen Ritz 
For ages 8 to 11
Lerner, 1989   ISBN: 978-0876143445

Beatrix is a quiet and very lonely little girl. Her brother Bertram has been sent off to school and as is customary for little girls of her class, Beatrix has a governess who teaches her at home. Beatrix hardly ever gets to play with other children so she takes comfort in taking care of the many pets that she has. Cox the butler brings her little rabbits, mice, and other creatures which Beatrix lavishes with affection and care.

Beatrix also spends many hours drawing her animals. Her hedgehog Tiggy is a frequent model as is Benjamin Bunny and the mice Hunca Munca and Appley Dapply. As she grows up Beatrix’s art improves. She has art lessons which give her work direction and she spends many hours drawing and painting animals, plants, flowers, and other things from the natural world. Encouraged by her friends and despite her parents disapproval Beatrix tries to sell her art but it is only after she writes and illustrates the story of Peter Rabbit that Beatrix is finally able to break through into the world of children’s literature.

Thanks to the great success of her little books Beatrix is able to gain some financial independence. At last she begins to spread her wings and to build a life for herself on a farm that she buys in the Lake District.

Though this is often a sad story, it gives the reader an excellent portrait in words of a woman who was terribly restricted by her times and by her parents. Thankfully, as an adult, Beatrix was able to find happiness in a part of the world that she loved. Children who enjoyed Beatrix’s little stories will be fascinated to discover what kind of a person she was and how she came to find success and happiness.