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The Fabulous Feud of Gilbert & Sullivan

Written by Jonah Winter

Illustrated by Richard Egielski

A musical comedy of friendships and fights starring Gilbert and Sullivan

Welcome to Topsy-Turvydom, a magical kingdom (well, more like a stage) full of pirates, policemen, fairies, and fake mustaches! Mr. Gilbert and Mr. Sullivan have ruled this kingdom together in peace, but one day, Mr. Sullivan decides he's had enough. No more silly stories!

Mr. Gilbert is stunned: He's never fought with his friend before. How will he find a way to win back Mr. Sullivan and save Topsy-Turvydom?

Caldecott Medalist Richard Egielski teams up with Jonah Winter for a story about how fights sometimes make a stronger friendship (and beautiful music to boot!).

Reviews and Awards

⋆ “Setting the scene in Victorian times, “when jolly old England was not so jolly,” this picture book contrasts grim poverty on the streets with a fanciful world created on the stage by popular musical performances. For many years, Gilbert and Sullivan have collaborated on successful operas, but now Mr. Sullivan finds Mr. Gilbert’s stories silly and his plots repetitive. First they quarrel, then they feud. But after a space of time, Mr. Sullivan takes the criticism to heart and, inspired by Japanese artifacts and performers, writes The Mikado, which Mr. Gilbert sets to music. An author’s note provides biographical information on the principals and comments on their collaborative work, its importance, and its appeal. The clearly written story comes alive in a series of distinctive ink-and-watercolor illustrations that are full of intriguing details and show great skill in the use of color, shading, and composition. Many of the double-page spreads show street scenes that incorporate cutaway walls, creating proscenium arches to highlight settings and frame the action in a suitably theatrical way. If the artists’ quarrel seems an unlikely topic for a picture book, its resolution is a hopeful one for any audience. An unusual, noteworthy picture book.” - Booklist, starred review

“Author and illustrator set the opening scene as impeccably as their subjects.... Lessons of friendship and forgiveness slip in, and Egielski’s saturated, theatrical tableaux add warmth and weight... Budding maestros will enjoy this dramatic tale.” - Kirkus Reviews

“For the young Gilbert & Sullivan aficionado - or more likely the children of G&S fans who want to pass on their passion - this lightly fictionalized biography is as welcome as flowers that bloom in the spring. Winter’s jaunty text follows a brief time during their collaboration when Sullivan became tired of setting Gilbert’s repetitious plots to music - a conflict that is resolved with the creation of The Mikado, one of their most popular operettas.... Egielski’s vibrantly colored illustrations help clarify a potentially confusing story. Using crisp black outlines and a deep Victorian palette, he frames some early scenes in simplified settings and does his best to make the mutton-chopped, mustachioed main characters distinguishable from one another. But repeat readers will most appreciate the wealth of detail in the many scenes that use cutaways, especially successful when showing the theater: onstage, backstage, audience, and even the street outside... [T]he end result is a collaboration as smooth and entertaining as any of Gilbert and Sullivan’s.” - Horn Book

“Winter tells it with an engaging combination of heartiness and ornate Victorian charm..... Egielski’s assured and eventful ink-and-watercolor illustrations treat proceedings onstage and off with bold theatricality.... If there’s a G&S production afoot, this will be a rollicking introduction.” - Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“Winter and Egielski succeed admirably in making the relationship between a Victorian librettist and a composer of comic operas accessible to children.... Winter balances interesting descriptions, juvenile arguing, and funny details, such as the names that Gilbert penned, e.g., “Titipu” and “Yum-Yum.” Egielski notes that his watercolor and ink scenes draw inspiration from Peter Max, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Hiroshige, among others. (Sendak’s influence is discernible, too.) There are surprises around each corner, from the miniature stage and simple wooden dolls that Gilbert used to test his ideas to the same scene realized as a vibrant Japanese finale. A class act.” - School Library Journal 

An interview with Jonah Winter was aired on Morning Edition on August 12th in which he talked about his recent picture book The Fabulous Feud of Gilbert & Sullivan, illustrated by Richard Egielski and available now. Click here to listen to the full interview at www.NPR.org.

Purchase Options
Indiebound Amazon • Barnes & Noble

Spring 2009
Picture Book
ISBN: 0-439-93050-2
Price: $16.99 / $18.99
Trim Size: 9" x 10 1/2"
Page Count: 40
Foreign Rights: Scholastic/Sheldon Fogelman Agency
Translation Rights: Scholastic/Sheldon Fogelman Agency
Rights Available? yes

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