Tag Archives: Debi Gliori

We Are All Born Free

‘If we are frightened of being badly treated in our own country, we all have the right to run away to another country to be safe.’

The above is a quote from We Are All Born Free, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Pictures, where you get the simplified version of our rights, accompanied by the most beautiful illustrations. This book isn’t new, but we have never needed it more.

We Are All Born Free, by Frané Lessac

There is something about the simplified version that makes the truth about what this well known declaration is telling us really stand out. Our leaders would do well to read it. Many of them are most likely in favour of our rights, while conveniently forgetting to act as though they are. ‘We have a duty to other people, and we should protect their rights and freedoms.’

‘These rights belong to everybody, whatever our differences.’

We Are All Born Free, by Alan Lee

(The paperback of We Are All Born Free was published last year, and all royalties go to Amnesty International.)

Harry hole

I almost sat up in bed in the middle of the night. I’d remembered a few more book suggestions I could make.

As I’ve mentioned before, I am always on the lookout for more child readers. They grow up so fast, and I need more recipients to give books to. I found an eleven-year-old whose grandfather lives in the flat above the Grandmother’s, and have been lobbing bags of books in her direction for some time. She’s a keen reader, and I went so far as to ask for a list of what she normally reads, the better to choose books for her.

Then I thought to make a list of suggestions for her, for books I like so much I wouldn’t dream of parting with them. It was this list I suddenly thought of new additions to, mid-sleep. (Since you ask, Che Golden, Kate Thompson, among others.)

The list already has Philip Pullman and Derek Landy and Debi Gliori on it, along with several other great writers.

And then I had another thought. (Yes, I know. That’s awfully many thoughts for one night.) I take it as read (!) that everyone has read Harry Potter. You can’t not have heard of him. But is eleven too young? Was Harry not on the list because he’s obvious, or because this girl hasn’t actually read the books yet? Or tried them and gave up.

Are we now so far removed from Harry hysteria that not ‘every’ child will read about witches and wizards? Would I be an idiot if I suggested it? Or would I be more of an idiot if I don’t?

Stirling Literary Society

The Resident IT Consultant had been a couple of times, but I needed something special to tempt me out on a wet and dark Monday night, so it was my first time. Stirling Literary Society meet at The Smith [local museum] once a month, and the thing that got me out of the house was Scottish Children’s Literature. Dr Maureen Farrell from the University of Glasgow drove through floods to tell us about it.

When she realised that her degree didn’t cover any Scottish books Maureen decided to do her PhD on Scottish children’s literature, but was dissuaded because it was thought there wasn’t enough material for a doctorate… (I was unsure in the end if she went ahead with it anyway, or not. But whichever way, Maureen knows a few things about those non-existent children’s books.)

In the ‘beginning’ there were books, and some children read them. And there were chapbooks, sold by travelling chapmen. In the 18th century James Janeway published A Token for Children. Often books were written by puritans who wanted to educate, and needed to use language accessible to children. As early as 1744 there were ‘magazine giveaways’ with balls for boys and hoops for girls.

Then we had Sir Walter Scott. Naturally. He wrote a book for his grandson, but as a ‘very wordy writer’ it probably wasn’t all that easy to read. But he enjoyed it so much he wanted to give up writing adult books. The first proper children’s book in Scotland seems to have been Catherine Sinclair’s Holiday House, where children played and were naughty.

Maureen Farrell’s criteria for what counts as Scottish literature are books by someone Scottish, set in Scotland or about Scottish people. If not, we couldn’t lay claim to J K Rowling or Julia Donaldson.

There wasn’t really time enough to talk even quite briefly about most Scottish authors. Maureen galloped past Treasure Island, The Light Princess, Peter Pan, and on to Theresa Breslin and Eric Linklater, explaining what the Carnegie Medal is (very elderly audience, but maybe not necessary?), Molly Hunter, Joan Lingard, and she showed us covers of lots of books, including The Wee Free Men.

She described the beginning chapter of Nicola Morgan’s Fleshmarket, and I decided I could possibly avoid fainting if I was lucky. Jackie Kay cropped up with both fiction and poetry, local author Rennie McOwan got some attention, as did Mairi Hedderwick and Debi Gliori.

And then there were the books in Scots, of which she had many to show us. I particularly liked Roald Dahl’s The Twits, which became The Eejits.

I reckon you can deduce that there’s enough for a PhD there, somewhere. We could have gone on for hours and only skimmed the surface. There was a lot I knew about, obviously, but there was also quite a bit I didn’t, because I was never a small Scottish child, unlike others in the audience who had strong and fond memories of many of the books mentioned.

Book’s in the post

When those lovely picture books arrive, the postman will huff and puff until he somehow gets rid of the book. Usually not through the hole in the door, which is better suited to bills and love letters.

So I think it’s a great idea to shrink the picture book a little, until it will go in the post like almost everything else.

Debi Gliori’s The Tobermory Cat has been turned into a postal book. What that means is that the formerly normal sized picture book now looks more like an over-enthusiastic greetings card. You write the address on the cover. You add a message (You’d better enjoy this book!) and stick a stamp on, and post. And it will fit the openings of both the red postbox on the corner of the street, as well as the lucky recipient’s front door or roadside letterbox.

It is a little smaller. Quite a bit smaller, in fact. But somehow you don’t notice, because the book looks just as nice as the original. It’s just as easy to read. And if you have a dozen nieces and nephews or grandchildren; just get the same number of books and post away.

Debi Gliori, The Tobermory Cat

(If someone could advise what I should do, I’d be most grateful. 1) Keep the sweet little thing. 2) Send it to some nice child somewhere.)

The Amnesty readings

If you feel up to the gruesome nature of what some people do to other people, you should go along to one or more of the Amnesty International readings in Charlotte Square. They are free, and they are good, but they could make you cry, as happened to one of the authors reading the other night. But then, if the people who need Amnesty’s help can put up with what’s being done to them, I reckon we can.

I’ve been to two readings this week. The first one had Dreams of Freedom as its theme, and it is also the title of a book published in association with Amnesty. It has short quotes from well known people who have been wrongly imprisoned, and it has been illustrated by famous artists, including Oliver Jeffers and Chris Riddell.

Dreams of Freedom

On Wednesday the authors who read to us were Dub Leffler, Debi Gliori, Michel Faber and D D Everest. They are all different people, but they all read very well, and talked about their pieces in a way to make me want to read more. To do more.

Wednesday’s writers were Nelson Mandela, Malala Yousafzai, Aung San Suu Kyi and Tenzin Gyatso (Dalai Lama). It’s easy to think we know it all, but we don’t. We need to hear more of what’s being done to people.

On Thursday the authors were Paul Magrs, Teri Terry, Priya Parmar and Cecilia Ekbäck. The pieces they read were all excedingly short, but no less powerful. The writers were Alicia Partnoy, Liao Yiwu, Enoh Meyomesse and Stephanie Ndoungo, and what strikes you again and again is how normal their behaviour has been, and still they end up incarcerated.

Amnesty in Edinburgh are asking people to sign a petition to free Atena Farghadani, who is an Iranian artist, punished for posting a cartoon on Facebook, and sentenced to 14 years. When she shook the hand of her male lawyer, they were both accused of indecent conduct. To sign you can text ATENA and your own FIRST and LAST name to 70505.

Dreams of Freedom

‘Freedom to feel safe.’

The selfie

I hadn’t seen Debi Gliori since last summer when she ran in front of the collected paparazzi waiting for Gordon Brown. So it stands to reason she’d be there – twice – as we were waiting for Nicola Sturgeon to stand in the same spot as her colleague.

She – Ms Sturgeon that is, not Debi – was in Charlotte Square to speak to Val McDermid. I’d have loved to hear what they had to say, but had other commitments. So here they are doing that selfie thing our leading politician seems to be so adept at.

Nicola Sturgeon and Val McDermid

Feeling Three Men in a Boat-ish

Tell me honestly; do you think it was the smelly Danish cheese that did it?

I suppose it was karma. I put the cheese in the Resident IT Consultant’s suitcase, thinking we’d just be travelling for the day and the cheese would be all right, and so would we. I mean, we were all right. And once the cheese had recovered in the fridge overnight, so was it. In fact, I had a very agreeable lunch sandwich with just the right degree of smelliness. The cheese. Not me.

Although it was hot, and we could all have done with more to drink.

You’d have thought that three out of four trips across the North Sea going somewhat wrong would be one or two too many? I felt we’d had our share of unexpectedly travelling via Oslo or the three of us flying on separate planes, to last us several months.

But on Tuesday our plane had scratches, not previously noted in any flying logbooks. So we sat there, and we sat there, and they gave us so much juice and water that they ran out, and then they told us to get off the plane and wait in the terminal. Luckily, Kastrup is a nice airport, and Daughter very nicely bought the two old people an almond croissant. Each.

Once the scratches had been deemed safe we were back on board, with people panicking nicely over possibly or definitely missed connections in London. We didn’t worry, because we knew we should make the last plane to Scotland. Until the purser came and said we wouldn’t. Until the people at Heathrow said we would, and we did. The plane was so empty they could easily accommodate each of us sitting separately from the other two, which is how we like it (unless we travel on separate planes).

And the only reason I’m boring you with this is because all the will we, won’t we, and getting home late meant I needed to give Debi Gliori and Ros Asquith a miss at Charlotte Square. And Xinran.

Sigh.

But I did get some reading done.