Rosebud & Red Flannel, by Ethel Pochocki
Rosebud & Red Flannel opens:
A pair of long johns and a nightgown hung side by side on a clothesline, so close that their sleeves almost touched. But they never spoke to each other. Red Flannel, the long johns, said nothing because he was shy and clumsy in the company of someone so beautiful. Rosebud, the nightgown, ignored him because she felt it beneath her dignity to speak with such a coarse fellow.
An opposites-attract story about woolen long johns and a beautifully embroidered nightgown—who knew? Rosebud & Red Flannel was one of the very first recipients of Maine's Lupine Award, and it is as Maine as Maine can be—Red Flannel's origin story in particular will be familiar to anyone who shops at Reny's:
The mistress had found him on a table of marked-down bargains at the Army-Navy surplus store. IRREGULARS the sign had said. He had been dumped there out of a box sent from the woolen mill, one bright-red splash amid the unraveling caps and gloves.
The prose is crisp and has a nice rhythm and feels comfortably—not at all self-consciously—Olde Fashioned™, and the illustrations are clear and detailed and again, Olde Fashioned™, and I wish my photos did the colors justice:
The story itself was originally published in Cricket Magazine—with different illustrations, so now of COURSE I want to track down that issue. Also, hilariously, the first library subject heading listed on the copyright page is "Underwear--Fiction". Heh.
(Did I go look for more Underwear--Fiction at the Library of Congress website? YOU KNOW I DID.)
I'm of two minds about this book. My Crabby Side is irritated by the storyline, which runs along the lines of: A Lady Isn't Interested In A Guy But He Is Persistent And Eventually She Is Both Brought Low And Proven Wrong And Then They Fall In Love Forever And Ever Amen. Which, like. Yecch.
My Other Side is... kind of charmed by the Hans Christian Andersen-ish Inanimate Objects Fall In Love-ness of it all? It reminded me of The Steadfast Tin Soldier, actually, but with a happier ending.
So much so that I picked up The Annotated Hans Christian Andersen to revisit that story, and enjoyed it so much—turns out it still makes me want to THROW THINGS, because GEEZ LOUISE THE BALLERINA DID LITERALLY NOTHING WRONG WHY DOES SHE GET PUNISHED LIKE THAT, buuuut sometimes Getting Mad about these things is weirdly part of the enjoyment?—that I flipped back to the beginning of the book and am now reading it straight through.