Trubloff was first published in 1964. It’s the story of a musical mouse who lives with his family behind the panelling of the parlour bar in an inn in central Europe. The book was inspired by John’s own travels around Europe. One day a group of travelling Gypsy musicians come to the inn playing their musical instruments and Trubloff is utterly entranced and desperate to learn the balalaika himself. He follows his heart and his dreams and leaves to join the Gypsy troupe but is followed by his sister who persuades him to return to the Inn as his mother is desperate without him. Trubloff and his fellow musicians save the day for the innkeeper when they play for the restless patrons.
This is a wonderful story about following your heart and finding your dream. The beauty of this book is the incredible illustration techniques, the dark, rich colours of deep brown, purple, green and the burnt orange sun, evoking the cold, icy snowy landscape of Eastern Europe and the wonderful wooded, warm interiors of the houses.
Trubloff – The mouse who wanted to play the balalaika wouldn’t have been possible without the advent of the new printing technology around this time which meant that more daring and colourful picture books for children could be printed relatively cheaply, made possible by a process that separated colours in the artist’s work electronically. Illustrators could use a mix of colours and any shade, green, purple, or orange knowing that the printing machines could print these colours perfectly.
“Trubloff was all based on fact except that I never came across a mouse playing a balalaika in Yugoslavia”
“Trubloff was based on some wintry weeks in 1956 that I had spent in Yugoslavia with a friend, Stevan Tatic, where we did travel around on horse-drawn sleighs much like those in the book.
We went to a wedding by sleigh, which took about four hours. Everyone was drunk on slivovitz (plum brandy) including the driver. The sleigh would tip over from time to time and we would all roll into the snow. Gypsies played non-stop through the three days and nights that the wedding lasted, and I was greatly impressed with their music. One of the instruments they played was the balalaika.
Trubloff the Mouse who wanted to play the Balalaika was first published in 1964 and like many of John Burningham’s books has been republished in many different languages – a favourite worldwide.