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Story Behind the Story #34: Perloo the Bold

RedwallNow here is a topic for someone (not me) to write about: Books written for a specific child. There are quite a few. You can start with Alice in Wonderland.

My son, Robert, was an avid skier and a very fine one. He was also a reader. There was a time when he was reading the Redwall series by British writer, Brian Jacques, and was deeply involved in the books. Good books they are, and Mr. Jacques, whom I met a couple of times, was quite charming.

Now, I liked the Redwall books, too, but I asked myself this question: Why do so many of our fantasy books lean so heavily on European folk tales? The Grimm Brothers stories and all that are wonderful to be sure, but they are European. Nothing wrong with that, but could there not be fantasy based on—so to speak—the American landscape? Might such a tale be attractive to Robert?

Perloo the BoldThe result was Perloo the Bold. Here we have, ostensibly the Rocky Mountains—snow-covered, of course—along with Montmers, rabbit-like creatures, with very long feet—so they can ski. Then there are the Felbarts, coyote-like villains.

(Where did the name Perloo come from? I have no idea.) There is also the philosophical musings of Mogwat the Magpie, whose teachings include such sayings as, “If you learn to know your enemy before you hate him, you may learn not to have an enemy.” And, “Life is given. The rest one gives oneself.”

And Robert was there to provide technical help on aspects of skiing.

Perloo the Bold is not epic fantasy—nothing to compare to such a work as The Fellowship of the Ring. Indeed, the climactic scene here revolves around a snowball fight. But as sometimes happen when a book is written to give pleasure to one child—which it did—it attracts others—which it did.

It was also fun to write. Not all books are like that.

8 thoughts on “Story Behind the Story #34: Perloo the Bold”

    • Avi, Perloo is ALWAYS one of my students’ favorite books of the year! They beg for a sequel or a movie. 🙂 They’ve reenacted it in a play format, and they’ve quoted Mogwat/Perloo for months after reading this beloved book. Thank you to Robert for inspiring it and to you for writing it!

    • Glad folks keep this book in their minds.

      Bruce, always a pleasure to hear from you. Hope you are well and being productive.

      • Well, I’m working at about half speed these days due to the time I’m spending helping out with the grandbabies. But that is time well spent, and I’m still moving forward. Hope all is well with you, my friend!

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