Tag Archives: Chris Riddell

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…

Treasure your library

It’s not new, this idea of saving libraries. People are working hard to prevent closures, or this idea of ‘merely’ giving the school librarian the sack, leaving the books to look after themselves. Lots of authors, and others, were out marching a couple of weeks ago in London. I wish I could have been there.

And then there was this open letter during the week from Chris Riddell and Malorie Blackman and all the other former laureates, to save our libraries. I don’t feel that this should even have to be on the to-do list for children’s laureates, past or present. The threat should not be there.

Yesterday I mentioned the effect of libraries on a couple of authors, one of whom won the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize this week. Alex Wheatle’s obvious joy on winning, and his totally unrehearsed speech on how the library [in Brixton] made him who he is, was very moving.

Whether we blame national government who really could shift spending money from weapons to libraries, or the local councils who are financially squeezed everywhere and ‘must’ save, is a matter of opinion.

Halmstad Library

Melvin Burgess BH library

But it shouldn’t be like in my former home town in Sweden, which has a lovely, newly built library, where clearly no expense was spared, which now has problems with vandalism. Mindless teen gangs come in – maybe because they are bored – and they are rowdy and they break things [toilets, for instance] and generally disturb the users of the library, forcing staff to call in security.

It seems they are now trying ‘youth leaders’ and they will hopefully have a positive effect. Or, they could try putting books by Melvin Burgess [see yesterday’s post] in their hands and making them read.

Let’s hope it’s not too late. I don’t have much hope, but let’s hope anyway.

The effect of jail, and stealing a book

Or how good comes from bad.

Very pleased for Alex Wheatle who won the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize last night, with his book Crongton Knights. Congratulations!

I know very little about Alex, who’s not been on my horizon long. But I like the sound of him. The one fact that seems to stand out when people write about him, is that Alex discovered books and reading while in jail over thirty years ago. So something good resulted from a fairly negative event; both the starting to read, and eventually writing books himself. And I believe there’s an MBE in Alex’s past as well.

Another vaguely criminal background story was given some attention this week when Chris Riddell illustrated a story by Jenn Ashworth about how she discovered YA books in her library as a child. In her case it was finding Melvin Burgess’s Baby and Fly Pie and reading it in one morning in the library, before stealing it.

Chris Riddell and Jenn Ashworth 1

Chris Riddell and Jenn Ashworth 2

Chris Riddell and Jenn Ashworth 3

Yes, that’s not to be recommended, but to find yourself in a book to such an extent, and to be guided by this new reading experience into becoming an author feels right.

Sometimes bad leads to good.

(And I seem to have done my normal thing and borrowed very freely from Chris. And I can’t claim never to have taken something that wasn’t mine.)