Tag Archives: Wendy Meddour

Free-Range or average?

I have here two lovely picture books, and I’m trying to decide if they are ‘the same’ or the complete opposite of each other.

Free-Range Freddy by Rachel Bright, and with the brightest pictures by Izzy Evans, tells the tale of Freddy, who is anything but average. He pops out of his egg – I believe he is a chicken – all blue and rainbow coloured, and the proportions of his body are not exactly the same as everyone else’s.

But that’s just the beginning. Freddy also has ideas of what to do and when, and he is a bit noisy and generally very colourful in his behaviour. But you know what? The hens and the other animals get used to him after a while, and then they realise he’s bringing the best out in them. And everyone’s happy.

Whereas Wendy Meddour’s Howard the Average Gecko, with un-average illustrations by Carmen Saldaña, is about Howard who rather fancies himself as special; really unusual. Because he blends in with his surroundings, and he has never seen anyone else doing that.

Until his surroundings make themselves noticed when they tell Howard he’s merely average and that the world is full of creatures looking like what they are next to. That’s why he’s never seen them. But if Howard’s not special, then who will be able to like him? Howard is in crisis mode when…

So, yes, they are different. But also the same. Both are sure of themselves, and one is unique and one isn’t. Or at least, not in the way he’d imagined.

Not In That Dress, Princess!

Dresses can be annoying things. Especially to men. I mean, how can any woman even begin to believe that she can do things while wearing a dress? Especially ‘men’ things.

I have mentioned this new picture book from Wendy Meddour before, but now it is finally out, and with Princessy illustrations by Cindy Wume. It’s a story I could see coming, ever since Wendy’s surprising discovery that a woman wearing a dress is not suited to changing the oil in her car. Men upset so easily.

(Between you and me, I reckon Wendy can do anything.)

Anyway, here is the story about the Princess who always wanted to do stuff, while wearing a dress, and always being told, ‘not in that dress, Princess!’ by some adult, the Queen, or the governess or someone.

But oddly enough, her brothers the princes could do anything they wanted.

Here we have a princess who actually wants to do lots of fun things. But isn’t allowed to. In the end something snaps, and our princess sets out to do exactly all the things she wants to do, in her dress. And you know, she really can do all those things, dress notwithstanding.

In the end, the parents see sense, and the princes beg to be like their sister.


(This review was written by a Bookwitch wearing a dress. Yeah, that hardly ever happens. But it can happen.)

Author, in a dress

What do people do? During these unusual times, I mean.

Supposedly authors, who ‘always’ work from home, tend to do so in their pyjamas. I believe that some have now started actually dressing [properly] for work, from home. Even heard of someone who ironed his clothes.

And they write. At least those who feel up to writing. It can be hard to get in the mood. Or getting out of that other mood.

Will anyone still be around to publish what they write, once they have typed ‘The End’? Will there be shops from which to buy those books?

I came across the link to a video clip, where Wendy Meddour reads her new picture book, Not in that Dress, Princess! It does have a publisher, but won’t be out for a few months yet.

It’s about what princesses can do while wearing dresses.

I like it. Do you?

The Glump and the Peeble

Wendy Meddour and Rebecca Ashdown, The Glump and the Peeble

We often want to be what we are not. That goes for me too, but I can sense I am more Glump than anything else. I don’t think I’ve got even a little Peeble in me.

But then, it could turn out that other readers of Wendy Meddour’s and Rebecca Ashdown’s new picture book The Glump and the Peeble are my complete opposites, and are Peebles wishing for more Glumpness.

This is a book about being brave enough to try being the other way. Just a little. There’s nothing wrong with what you are, but any hankering after the other way of life could indicate you should have a little go.

So as the Glump sits in his cave, sighing over the imagined fun Peebles have, it seems there is a Peeble who would like to slow down and sit and think somewhere quiet. And once their minds have permitted them to rethink how they live, it turns out they can be a bit like the other one. While still being themselves.

Wendy Meddour and Rebecca Ashdown, The Glump and the Peeble

Fun and colourful, with lovely verse from Wendy, which begs to be read out loud, and so much colour in Rebecca’s illustrations. Even I would almost want to be Peeblier if I could be that pink and furry.

Almost.

The Secret Railway

Ella is a little girl in Wendy Meddour’s new book The Secret Railway, and she Loves things. She just does, whatever it is. Almost.

And I just Love Wendy Meddour. She writes such funny and clever books. In this case for children aged 5+ (according to what it says on the back). But it’s equally good for witches who are, well, let’s say, slightly older than that. I really, really enjoyed this story about a brother and sister who discover a secret railway next to their new house.

Wendy Meddour and Sam Usher, The Secret Railway

They go out to explore and find themselves in another world, where there are nasty clockwork things, made by Griselda, who married the King. There is a poor Prince who needs help, and who better than Leo and Ella?

Leo is a lovely nine-year-old boy who knows what brothers have to do. They have to follow their little sisters, no matter where those sisters go, to make sure she is all right and to bring her safely home again. Pure little gent.

Did I say this is a lovely little book? It is. And I strongly suspect there will be more, so we can read again about the ghastly Griselda and the Prince and maybe Ella can find more things to Love.

(Illustrations by Sam Usher)

How the Library (Not the Prince) Saved Rapunzel

This is a picture book about job satisfaction, mainly. Quite a bit about the importance of libraries, too, although I feel that having a job turns out to be more valuable to Rapunzel than the fact that it’s in a library.

Long live libraries!

Wendy Meddour and Rebecca Ashdown, How the Library (Not the Prince) Saved Rapunzel

Wendy Meddour rhymes beautifully about poor Rapunzel who’s really pretty depressed. She doesn’t want to do anything, or see anyone. At all. Rapunzel just sits there in her flat, moping and looking beautiful.

The prince does no good whatsoever.

What does work in the end is the letter telling her she’s got the job. The one in the library. (That’s once the postman could be bothered to traipse all the way up to her flat to deliver it.)

Wendy Meddour and Rebecca Ashdown, How the Library (Not the Prince) Saved Rapunzel

Rebecca Ashdown’s illustrations are almost better than Wendy’s poetic fairy tale. (Am I allowed to say that?) This is a beautiful picture book. I just can’t decide if it’s for children or adults. It’s far more appealing to an older reader (like me) than many picture books tend to be. It’s on a more mature level (16th floor), so I don’t like it because it’s cute, but because it’s relevant.

Rapunzel’s not the only one to be saved by books, you know.

A family affair

I was going to go with Mothers and Daughters, but then I didn’t have mine with me and Wendy Meddour was rather more than mother and daughter with Mina May. The whole clan was there, and where would we have been without the running commentary from youngest son? He was lovely. So was the older one telling his brother to be quiet. And the one in between who liked Steve Cole.

Wendy Meddour

As were all of them. Admittedly, Wendy’s mother didn’t let her have pierced ears (she does now, though, and she wears beautifully dangly ear rings) or pointy shoes when she was young(er). Nor does it seem that the parents were in on Wendy’s invisible dog. She had it for a year and a half when she was a little girl. (I didn’t take proper notes, but I think it was a golden retriever.)

Wendy’s own little girl towers over her mother, as daughters do. Not only has Mina May done the illustrations for all three Wendy Quill books, but she showed us how to draw. I have never drawn such a great rat or spooky ghost as I did yesterday afternoon. In fact, I’d say we were all pretty artistically enabled. We did so well. Although the adults never got any sweeties.

Possibly for the best. Our teeth would fall out.

Mina May

As I was saying, Mina teaches like an adult. (And I know it’s irrelevant, but that was one fantastic pale green lace dress she wore!) She is just about an adult at 13, seeing how she sent her first portfolio of pictures to a publisher at the age of eight. By the time Wendy Quill came to be, the publisher felt Mina’s illustrations were better than her mum’s.

The audience was asked what parts they had played in the school play, and we had two angels, a Mary, a scorpion and a cow. And then there was Wendy’s crocodile’s bottom.

Wendy read from the crocodile book, and we had the scene where Kevin, the school rat, jumps out of the teacher’s handbag, and later on we jumped on our bed to make our big sister’s diary fall off the out-of-reach shelf.

Wendy Meddour and Mina May signing

All in all, a fun afternoon. And I do like a woman who not only comes out about her invisible dog, but takes her children to work.

The mummies have it

To go or not to go? Well, first I needed the ‘rest.’ Then I found I needed rest from the resting. So I went. I wanted to, really, because Wendy Meddour and Mina May were debuting in Charlotte Square and I didn’t want to miss it.

Wendy Meddour and Mina May

As I arrived I first noticed Wendy’s eldest son, and only then did I see that I was walking behind the whole family. How I can recognise children of people I’ve never met, is another thing.

Secret Agent Mummy

I was early, so sat in the yurt for a bit, when at the corner of my eye I seemed to see a man covered in bandages walk past. And I mean totally covered in them. It had to be Steve Cole. No one else is quite that crazy. Worked out that I could waylay him – if it was him – close to his event. There was a photocall for Michael Morpurgo, but a bandaged Steve trumps MM. (I suppose he must have slipped in the shower this morning, or something.)

My plan was successful and the mummy said hello and gave me hug (so whoever it was, seemed to know me) and said he’d maybe forgive me later for going to someone else’s event and not his.

Michael Morpurgo

Michael Morpurgo was still there when I went to look, so I didn’t even have to go without. He had come to lend a hand for someone by the name of Barroux, about whom I know nothing. MM didn’t wear his customary hat, as apparently he hates it. Now we know.

Linda Strachan and Emma Barnes

Went to Wendy’s event, with her illustrator daughter Mina May. Encountered Linda Strachan and Emma Barnes outside, so we chatted. I knew Emma’s name from somewhere, but not her face. We concluded I had reviewed her (very enjoyable) book, but we hadn’t met before. Told Linda I was sorry to have missed her Hamish event on Wednesday, as I love Hamish and it was about the very topical Bannockburn.

Steve Cole

I had asked Steve (or whoever) to sign slowly, so that he’d still be there when Wendy and Mina got to the bookshop. He did and he was, and it seems as if it really must have been him all the time. (Who else would be idiot enough to wander around looking like that? He’d even crossed the road wearing his outfit, and not got arrested. I suppose August in Edinburgh makes anything look normal.)

Steve Cole, Wendy Meddour and Mina May

As there was only one of him, the Secret Agent Mummy agreed to let mummy Wendy have one of his chairs to sit on. Later, when one of Wendy’s sons wanted to buy a copy of Steve’s book she asked if he was sure he wanted to spend his money on this. He was. Sensible boy. They were all nice, actually. Funny, too. The mummies, I mean.

Secret Agent Mummy and victim

Lots of weird photos later I went home. A light workload is quite a good thing on occasion. And I like my authors funny.

Wendy Quill Tries to Grow a Pet

Growing a pet is something I have to admit to never having tried. There are limits. But Wendy Quill – and I believe Wendy Meddour’s alter ego – will always start crazy schemes like that.

Wendy (the Quill Wendy) wants to be a vet, and having a couple of pets already counts for nothing. She needs more. Her parents say no. The invisible dog isn’t much use, so Wendy starts growing some alternate pets. Nits, frogs, whatever will come.

With the help of her best friend and no direct hindrance from her family, she sows the seeds, so to speak. And she’s more successful than you might imagine.

Wendy Meddour and Mina May, Wendy Quill Tries to Grow a Pet

This is a totally crazy story, made all the more fun for the illustrations by Mina May, age 12 (see, she’s a year older this time). It’s a quick read, but the time you need to study all the pictures means you could be a while.

Bookwitch bites #107

I was awfully tempted to suggest the Resident IT Consultant’s cousin look in the place where it was ‘meant’ to be. But it felt wrong to state the obvious, even though lost things often are precisely where they should be. It’s just that we fail to see them.

She didn’t quibble with the statement that she had borrowed his book, or that he deserved to have it returned. She just wasn’t quite sure what book it was, so offered up another tome on Faraday over dinner on Saturday night. It was the wrong one. But once she got home, she looked again, and there it was. On the shelf, in plain sight.

Oh well, it’s been found. The Resident IT Consultant will be happy again.

Speaking of happy, I was happy when Wendy Meddour sent me the link to her and super daughter Mina May’s appearance on Woman’s Hour on Thursday. I knew they were doing it, but at the time I ‘was on the train’ and couldn’t listen, and by sending me this link, Wendy saved me searching all of the – no doubt excellent – hour for their eight minutes.

I am very pro this kind of mother and daughter collaboration. The two of them did a great job, and Mina May not only draws like an adult, but she sounds older than twelve. Much older. She will go far.

PP for President! More happiness with Philip Pullman being elected President of the Society of Authors. At least as long as it doesn’t stop him from the odd spot of writing. We quite like Philip writing.

Murdo Macleod and press photographers with Philip Pullman at Charlotte Square

I’m fairly sure authors like readers to be reading, too. I have to admit to having not touched my book for a couple of days. I’m calling it a reading holiday. Doing other stuff, like ‘knowing’ where the cousin put Faraday. And I did ‘touch’ my book, actually. The Grandmother showed an interest in it, so I had to retrieve it from her side. These Scottish relatives do like to pick up other people’s books…