Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A-Tisket, a-Tasket...

...a little yellow basket. Isn't it the season to find some nice things to put in a basket to share with someone special?
Here's an award winning picture book based on the nursery rhyme made into a fabulous jazz tune by the likes of the incomparable Ella Fitzgerald herself.
Here she is singing this tune in an old black & white movie called,  Ride 'Em Cowboy (1942) which is also noted for being an Abbott and Costello movie. According to her filmography page at, she sang this song in 6 other movies from 1938 to 1948, so it was obviously a huge hit for her, back in the day. Catchy tune, eh? I particularly like her rendition of it!

So here are some other famous literary baskets (not basket-cases -- I'm sure there are plenty of those!)
Here is my favourite book from childhood, which I read and reread many times, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Yes, I know it's the abridged version! I've been meaning to read the real thing, honestly!
Being from a family of four girls, I could really relate to these sisters and although I felt closest to Jo (the literary one) I was secretly glad that as I was the youngest. I really had more in common with Amy (the artistic one) and the one who ends up with "that Laurence boy" (my first literary crush)!
Where's the basket, you may ask?
Well, I seem to remember they were always packing up a basket for Beth to take to the poor German family (with the sick baby)! Well, I couldn't find an illustration of that particular scene, but here's another one. It's the scene where the mother has to go to Washington to visit her husband, who was wounded fighting for the Union army during the American Civil War. Laurie brings over a basket (from his rich grandfather) and in this scene his tutor is holding it, while talking to Mrs. March and Beth and Meg look on.
This is from the 1994 movie version of Little Women with Winona Ryder as Jo and Susan Sarandon as Mrs. March. Jo is just about to enter the scene to show them her hideous haircut. (She sold her hair so that her Mother could afford to take the train.)
Do you see the lengths to which I will go to get a basket in a picture?

Now here is a charming picture of a basket. Can you guess who is the artist of this watercolour? Here is  a wider shot of the can you guess?

Well, if you said Beatrix Potter, then go to the head of the class! I found this picture on a wonderful blog named BibliOdyssey, and the post was about Beatrix Potter's rarities or lost drawings. This is a painting of one of her animal characters named Appley Dapply and was supposed to be part of a series of greeting cards, but the artwork went missing in 1917 before publication and didn't resurface for 20 years or so, when it was given to a young relative. 
 Beatrix Potter (1866-1943) is best known as the creator of Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny. Here are more of her lovely illustrations.

I saw a wonderful biopic about her recently and even bought the DVD. It's called Miss Potter and stars one of my fave actresses -- Renée Zellweger. Here she is with co-star Ewan McGregor. This film really brings the world of a budding author / illustrator to life, and especially shows the struggles against middle class society's expectations that a talented young woman had to endure in order to get her book published.  Luckily she found a willing publisher in the Frederick Warne Company which was willing to try new authors.  It is a very sweet, (sometimes bittersweet), whimsical, and charming movie about a very creative and strong woman who made sure she got what she wanted out of life, and in turn left the world all the better for it.

There are a few similarities in this movie to a previously mentioned miniseries on this blog.  If you noticed the snotty reference to "tradesmen", the train scenes, and the tea sets, some of you will have guessed by now that I am referring to North and South. Luckily for me there are some great basket scenes in it.
In North and South, Margaret Hale, as  the daughter of a vicar, was used to bringing baskets of groceries to the poor in her father's parish. Once they have moved to Milton, in the cold industrial north of England she meets up with some poor mill workers and offers to visit and bring them a basket. Here is the reaction she gets from them.

But being a good hearted girl, Margaret does eventually show up at their door with a basket, for which they are eventually grateful.

But not only Margaret is the bearer of baskets. When Margaret's mother is taken ill, the thoughtful mill owner John Thornton, who carries a flame for Margaret, shows up at her door with a delectable basket of fruit.
Perhaps it even looked something like this:
Claude Monet's Fruit Basket with Apples and Grapes (ca. 1879)

So now we have favourite basket picture! Perhaps you will enjoy it too...


Maria Grazia said...

What a creative, original way of uniting things and facts you have, Phylly. Congratulations. I love it.
And thanks for the JT-with-basket pic. May I say just one small negative thing about our beloved? I hate that hat! Said it. Forgive me. Have a great time! Big Hug.MG

Avalon said...

Oh dear, you have not seen a real basket until one of us Cherokee women make you a basket. I will have to make you one of the days.
I like the post. You have an adorable blog.

tyme_4_t said...

Baskets...what a wonderful and interesting post on baskets! Love Ella & now will have that song in my head all day!

Phylly3 said...

@Maria--I don't mind him in the top hat, but I'll make sure he loses it in the next post!
@Avalon--Wow! I would love to see a Cherokee basket! Do you mean the workmanship or what is in it? (I am assuming the former).
@tyme_4_t -- Ella's voice is so rich. That video was a real find!
Thanks for the wonderful comments ladies!

MaryKwizMiz said...

WOW - one could almost think you're a basket case :D :D
brilliant post and pic(k)s.. and great minds think alike.. I happen to have the last picture in the works (favourite of mine too.. how can you not love it? :)).. unfortunately family and other obsessions have been getting in the way but it should be up along with other things on Easter Sunday.
Happy Easter to you too :D

Anonymous said...

This was really original and creative, a great read! Definitely agree with you on your favorite basket picture, too !!