Tag: Chris Riddell

A Family Love Affair with Books

I love beautiful books.  I have no vice.  While like most women, I do like shoes and bags, they’re not something I’d covet the way I do with books, especially beautifully illustrated ones, I just can’t resist them, so when we went to the Bath Children’s Literary festival as mentioned in my previous post, when I saw this one particular book on a stand, it just called to me.

I mentioned this a lot in previous posts – how lucky I am to be married to a man who has the same passion as I do, that helps a lot you know.  You won’t hear any “Are you paying that much for a book?!”  Instead ours is usually “What did you get?  Here’s mine”.  

I picked up my book, and went off to pay.  When I turned my back, my husband was queueing behind me with his own choice of book, and T was also clutching her own .  Luckily, she had her own money to spend since she brought her savings with her and since this was after all a Children’s Literary festival all our books “were for kids”.

My husband’s pick was real-life astronaut’s first children’s book – The Darkest Dark by Chris Hadfield.

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It is a sweet book for children younger than T who is six.  It talks about how it is okay to have fears, especially of the dark and how dreams do come true.

inside_the_darkest_dark T’s choice on the other hand was this one:  Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman.

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It’s not surprising that she chose another book illustrated by Chris Riddell her favourite, especially since she already has all of his books.  She knows Neil Gaiman as the man who wrote her other favourite “Coraline” and even has the book signed by him and again, illustrated by yes, Chris Riddell again. She loves the man and I don’t blame her.  I think she also chose this book because it had a little boy on the cover for a change and that it had giants in it.

And this folks is my choice:  Neil Gaiman’s The Sleeper and the Spindle.

img_3583When I saw the sleeve, I was hooked.  The gold ink was calling to me, since it was wrapped, I didn’t even know how beautiful it was inside till we got home. It was my precious and it was mine.  Of course, I told T that I bought it for her, but it’s actually mine, all mine.

I took off the plastic that was wrapped around the sleeve ever so gently, and as I slipped the case off and the book fell out, I actually gave a little gasp and ran my fingers on it like braille. The front was just beautiful and inside?  See for yourself.

inside

I gently opened each page and marvelled at the artwork.  You’ve probably noticed by now that yes, it was illustrated by no other than the Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell.  I am now a fan too.  Even though I haven’t read the story yet (I can’t wait to read what Neil Gaiman’s version of Sleeping Beauty is like), it’s my current favourite book.  My precious.

Do you have a favourite children’s book?

An Afternoon with Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell

Isn’t it just great when a person you really admire and enjoy both his works as an author and artist turn out to be a genuinely nice person?  I don’t know about you, but I always imagine authors and artists to be a bit of a “stiff-neck”?  So imagine our delight when Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell turned out to be the complete opposite.  I can never say it enough, he really is a lovely man.  And I have no doubt, little T felt that too upon meeting and listening to him talk at the Bath Literary Festival last Saturday.

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We sat there for about an hour just listening to his anecdotes, while answering questions and live doodling and me laughing away.  At one point, I became conscious that I was laughing too hard and had to restrain myself.

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He was already on the stage when we came in, mindlessly doodling as people settled in their seats.

I also found myself sitting on the edge, not even resting my back, because I wanted to make sure that I heard every word.  I can’t remember the last time I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

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And here he is drawing his Children’s Laureate medal and telling us about the time his wife’s daughter’s friend who happens to be German rushed to him excitedly and said “Chris!  Are you really a Children’s Laundrette?  Apparently to his close friends, he is known as just that 🙂

I actually have to remind myself that while I like him, it’s actually little T, my six-year-old daughter who is a big fan of Chris Riddell.

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Drawing Mr. Munroe (one of T’s favourite characters from the books Ottoline) and explaining that he apparently based him on his daughter Katy, who as a young girl, liked to come down at night with her hair in front of her face and always gave him a “judging daughter look” – “Really Dad”” with her arms folded like in the drawing.

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When asked, what is your favourite book?  He drew The Hobbit.

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Before the forum started, we were given postcards where the audience could write their questions to Chris Riddell.  T didn’t want to ask any questions.  But the lucky ones who did and whose questions were picked from a huge pile, went home with his drawings.  Lucky bunch!

After the Q & A there was a long queue of children with their parents lining up to get their books signed and of course, little T was among them.

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Patiently waiting for her turn.

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T shyly accepting her signed book from her favourite author. ” He is the best mum!”  She said to me as she clutched her signed book excitedly and I definitely agree with her.

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Mummy!  I met Chris Riddell!

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Isn’t it obvious that she’s a happy little bunny for meeting her favourite author?

Driving all the way from Cornwall for the day was definitely so worth it.  I was really pleased and proud of little T for sitting quietly during the long Q & A session and waiting patiently for her turn to get her book signed in spite suddenly developing a slight temperature during the trip.

Thank you Chris Riddell for making a little girl happy.  And most of all, thank you for being a genuinely lovely person.

If your child hasn’t read any of his books yet, I do suggest that you add it on your Christmas list for them, especially if you have a little girl like T.  Ottoline (from the Ottoline books) and Ada Goth (from the Goth Girl books) are both feisty, strong-willed and independent little girls.  His books are nothing like  the usual books for children, that’s why we love them

Have you heard of Chris Riddell?

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