MR Bliss

Mr Bliss - J.R.R. Tolkien Mr. Bliss is delightfully amusing, both the book and the title character himself. He gets himself into a series of farcical scrapes involving his new car, three thuggish teddy bears, four obese brothers, some cabbages and some bananas. Mr. Bliss is a frightful coward throughout, not at all the hero you might expect, which I think would make him a rather sympathetic character for younger children. He does stand up for himself in the end, albeit in a somewhat passive/aggressive way. Oh, and watch out for a surprise appearance by Old Gaffer Gamgee!Tolkien's illustrations are, to be generous, charmingly naïve, but they do fit the story well. He's a good illustrator of landscape and the inanimate, but he was self-confessedly limited in his depiction of people and animals. If the pictures look like they were coloured in with pencils at the kitchen table, that's because they probably were.Mr. Bliss is an interesting comparison with The Sunday Books by Mervyn Peake: both by giants of 20th century literature; both created by fathers for their children; both published posthumously. Peake's illustrations for that book are much better than Tolkien's, but then he was an illustrator by profession.Conversely, Peake left no text for his pictures, the story being written years later by family friend, Michael Moorcock, and I think that Tolkien's is the superior tale.