Miss Bianca and the Rescue Aid Society
I first made the acquaintance of Miss Bianca and Bernard when I was nine. I was first introduced to Margery Sharp’s The Rescuers through the Walt Disney movie based on the book. Though the movie was released in 1977, the book had been charming audiences large and small since 1959.
In this tale, the Rescue Aid Society meets to discuss how to handle a plea for help from young Penny, who is being held captive on an abandoned river boat. Miss Bianca volunteers to find her and chooses Bernard to help her. In their quest, they discover that Penny is being held by Madame Medusa and her partner, Mr. Snoops, and they have two alligators guarding her on the river boat. They have kidnapped Penny so she can crawl down a hole in a pirate’s cave to get the diamond called the Devil’s Eye. The mice enlist the help of and albatross named Orville, and a dragonfly named Evinrude who acts as the motor for their leaf boat, and he in turn gets his animal friends to assist. [I absolutely LOVE Evinrude!]
The casting for this animated film could not have been more perfect. Bob Newhart as Bernard, the timid sidekick for Miss Bianca, who is played by Eva Gabor. The four years it took to produce this film paid off.
I wasn’t introduced to the book and its sequels until some time later in my late teens, and I have treasured them ever since.
While Disney followed with The Rescuers Down Under, Ms Sharp (1905-1991) wrote 9 books in the series, none of them titled like the second movie. Her books were titled as follows:
The Rescuers (1959)
Miss Bianca (1962)
The Turret (1963)
Miss Bianca in the Salt Mines (1966)
Miss Bianca in the Orient (1970)
Miss Bianca in the Antarctic (1971)
Miss Bianca and the Bridesmaid (1972)
Bernard the Brave (1977)
Bernard in Battle (1978)
Sadly almost all of these books are currently out of print. 😦
Ms. Sharp had written many novels and short stories prior to The Rescuers. Her novel, The Nutmeg Tree was adapted into a Broadway play. Cluny Brown, another popular novel of hers, was turned into a Hollywood movie. Her novel, Britannia Mews was made into a movie and released as The Forbidden Street (1949). In all, she wrote 27 adult novels, and 4 other books for children that were not in The Rescuers series. I have never read any of her other writing and think I will need to search some used book sites in the near future.
Originally, Ms. Sharp wrote The Rescuers for adults, but it became popular with children. Her illustrator for the series, Garth Williams, also illustrated Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little.
If you can’t find the books, please treat yourself to the movie! The Rescuers has long been one of my all-time favorite animated films!