Tag Archives: Chris Riddell

The last of the festival

I’ve been following the daily updates of the book festival in the Scotsman. Generally they pick out a few events and/or people for each day to write about, and generally names their readers will recognise. I really enjoyed what their David Robinson had to say about Karl-Ove Knausgaard: ‘He concluded by describing a toilet and how it works. And no, you didn’t have to be there.’ 😁

Even though I wasn’t there just then, I am tempted to agree. But mostly you’d quite like to have been there.

I’m glad Ehsan Abdollahi was permitted to enter the country. And I do hope he felt it was worth the struggle once he got here.

Ehsan Abdollahi by Chris Close

It was also a pleasure to find Nick Green’s Cat’s Paw among the books on Strident’s shelves. It comes heavily recommended.

Nick Green, Cat's Paw

On my last day I met Danny Scott, whose first football book I read a couple of years ago, and which was both fun and enjoyable. I like being able to put a face to a name.

Danny Scott

A face I know well, even in cartoon form, is Chris Riddell’s, and he appears to have been let loose near Chris Close’s props. Some people just have to draw on every available surface.

Chris Riddell

And speaking of the latter Chris, he seems to have made mashed Swede (aka rotmos), which is a traditional food, often served with bacon. Or, you could consider it an artful way to present crime writer Arne Dahl.

Arne Dahl

The two pictures below pretty much embody the book festival for me. One is a trio of happy authors, two of them paired up for an event, with the third to keep them in order as chair; Cathy MacPhail and Nicci Cloke with Alex Nye. And the second is another trio – Pamela Butchart and Kirkland Ciccone and Sharon Gosling – from two different events, lined up side by side, with their chair, Ann Landmann.

Nicci Cloke, Alex Nye and Cathy MacPhail

Pamela Butchart, Kirkland Ciccone, Sharon Gosling and Ann Landmann

Then there are the more practical aspects to running a book festival, such as duck pins for the noticeboard, a resting flag pole, the new design press pass, and the thing that puzzled me the most, a folding stool in the photocall area. I wondered how they could get away with standing an author on something like that, until it dawned on me that it was for photographers to stand on, to reach over the heads of others…

Duck

Flag pole

Press pass

Photo stool

And in the children’s bookshop; where would any of us be were it not for enthusiastic young readers?

Barry Hutchison

Or simply all the hard-working authors and illustrators who travel the length of the country to dress up and perform in front of young fans.

Sarah McIntyre

And those who kill with their keyboards:

Thomas Enger and James Oswald

Advertisements

Quest – the Aarhus 39

Quest is the ‘younger’ half of the two Aarhus short story collections, edited by Daniel Hahn. I use quotation marks, because I am less convinced of the age ‘gap’ than has been suggested. Yes, it is a little younger than Odyssey, but I felt many of the characters in Odyssey were not proper YA material; they were children who tried out older behaviour.

It’s not important, as both collections offer a great range of stories from all over Europe. As with Odyssey, the authors are occasionally quite famous, and so are the illustrators, and I’ve come across several of the translators before as well.

Quest - Aarhus 39

Of the 17 short stories in Quest I chose to start in the middle, because I just had to read the one by Maria Turtschaninoff first. I might have a crush on her. The story, The Travel Agency, did not disappoint. In fact, I could want to read a whole book based on it.

It’s unfair to pick favourites, but I did enjoy Maria Parr’s A Trip to Town, about a girl and her grandma. And as for Journey to the Centre of the Dark by David Machado; you’d do well to have a hand to hold. In the end it didn’t go quite as far as I kept being afraid of, but I’d be happy to offer my idea to anyone who feels like writing scary stories.

The Quest stories are not as dark as in Odyssey. Maybe that’s why they are offered as children’s stories. And perhaps that’s why they suited me better. But, in short, I can recommend these two collections as a starting point for fun with unknown [to you] names in children’s literature.

All packed

I’ve packed a hug by Chris Riddell. You never know when you might need one. It’s Daughter’s hug, so I suppose I’ll have to leave it with her.

In fact, most of my packing is hers, despite me only taking cabin baggage for my Geneva weekend. Walking shoes. Heavy. Large. But they are needed for the Andes, so travel they must. As are the wrap-around sunglasses. It might be winter in Chile, but what if there is snow? That would be bright.

Dayglow top. Yes, the sunglasses will come in handy there, too. She will be very visible in that top.

More stuff. A few rags for me to wear. Two books for me; one for outward journey and one for the return. They’d better be good, as I have no room for just-in-case spares.

But, looking on the bright side – with or without sunglasses – I should have plenty of space for Swiss cheese in the other direction. 😁

Empathy

Today is Empathy Day.

Basically, it’s about how reading helps you become more empathic. It’s something I never stopped to consider, much. But it’s obvious, really.

Reading broadens the mind, in so many ways. If you don’t read much – or at all – it will be a lot harder to develop empathy with and for others.

Empathylab.uk has information you can use, and also this rather lovely illustration by Chris Riddell to inspire you.

Chris Riddell for empathy Lab

Read stories. Build empathy. Make a better world.

Good for children

We have a new Children’s Laureate. It’s the very popular Lauren Child – another illustrator – whose name I am childishly happy to realise is sort of similar to her new title; child and laure.

Chris Riddell and Lauren Child

When I spoke to Chris last year I wasn’t surprised to find that he was looking forward to the end of his two years, when he’d be able to maybe rest a little, and to concentrate on his own work. Though I am sure he will also miss the whole thing a bit.

Chris is a hard act to follow, so I’ll be interested to see what Lauren will do. (Rather her than me!) I never totally grasped Lauren’s greatness, with Offspring just too old for her oh so popular books. But listening to those who know better, she is big.

And hopefully full of energy. She’ll need it.

Another accolade to the illustrating world was Scottish Book Trust’s Outstanding Achievement Award given to Mairi Hedderwick last week. As with the laureate-ship I couldn’t quite come up with my own theoretical shortlist, but on finding out that Mairi was the inaugural winner, I felt it all made sense. Who else but Katie Morag’s mum?

Mairi Hedderwick

Isn’t it interesting that all three people in this post are illustrators? Authors as well, but rather better at drawing pictures than most of us.

Bookwitch bites #142

It was nice to find myself in the company of Chris Riddell* and Judith Kerr for breakfast yesterday. Not for real, and it’s not as we were all in Hay or anything, but these two lovely people had dragged themselves into a radio studio ‘early’ on a Sunday morning to share their thoughts about Manchester and Hitler and whether to keep the truth from children.

Judit Kerr, stolen, borrowed from Chris Riddell

The downside to that, as Judith said, is that children think anyway and come up with the oddest ideas. So Hitler wasn’t actually hiding behind the hanging decoration in the toilet. But she sort of believed he might be. And Chris mentioned that his immediate reaction on hearing the Manchester news was to think of his daughter, recently graduated from University there. It’s how we function; we grab something close to ourselves.

In the Guardian Review we could read an extract from Philip Pullman’s Book of Dust. It didn’t take more than a few sentences and I was back in Lyra’s world. I already like Malcolm and his suspicious mind.

Jonathan Stroud, The Empty Grave

Another book to look forward to is Jonathan Stroud’s last Lockwood – The Empty Grave – which had a cover reveal this week. I tend to sneer a bit at reveals like this, but I found myself quite taken with it. Lovely to see George at long last. And I’d say that whereas an empty grave could be seen as a positive thing, I don’t think we should have such sweet expectations here (because where is the corpse?).

Awards are good. Especially when given to the right people for the right books. Some favourites of mine have recently managed this. Simon Mason was awarded Best Crime Novel for Young Adults at CrimeFest for Kid Got Shot. Robin Stevens got the award for Best Crime Novel for Children. I’m simply pleased that the younger books are getting attention like this.

Adrian McKinty won the Edgar for Rain Dogs, which is no minor thing, and is well deserved. He seems quite pleased, judging by this blog post. At home in Australia minding the children, Adrian sent his wife to receive the prize.

(*I’m counting on Mr Riddell’s goodwill in not minding having his sketch stolen by me, as usual.)

Please send Hugs

I felt a bit embarrassed as I emailed people regarding Hugs. I emailed Chris Riddell himself, mentioning I would quite like Hugs. I emailed his publicist, also with Hugs in the subject line. I’m not really used to asking for Hugs.

But Hugs I got, and they are so lovely, so huggy. You’ll love them.

Chris Riddell, 100 Hugs

Chris doodles all the time, and I’m guessing he also doodles hugs, almost without thinking, as he goes about his business. And he does some very huggy hugs. You feel loved just looking at them.

So now 100 hugs have been gathered in his new boook 100 Hugs. (I haven’t actually counted them. I’ll take their word for it.) There are hugs for everyone, whether you are a crocodile or a witch, a princess or a bear. Some look huggier than others. Personally I like the big fat hugs the best, and I would probably avoid the croc. Just to be on the safe side. Though I’m not saying crocodiles don’t love each other too.

There are hardly any words. Just a few here and there. It’s the Hugs that matter.

And, this was quite a surprise. The book is tiny. I’d somehow imagined standard picture book size, but this is a companion to my Diary of a Provincial Lady; beautifully done with ribbon bookmark and everything.

100 Hugs couldn’t have come at a better time. We need them. Lots of them.

Squeeze…