Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Making May Magnificent - Brilliant Books

Over the last year there have been a number of celebrations, celebrations of book birthdays and anniversaries and in 2014 this is set to continue, as we started the year there were anniversaries for a number of books, some quite young, some much older.  Now that we have come to May it is time to celebrate 75 years of T.S. Eliot’s Mcavity The Mystery Cat (Faber and Faber)! Mcavity is probably one of the most famous of criminal cats and he has obviously been lucky enough to have more than 9 lives, being such a grand old age, which means that a new young audience of readers can enjoy his escapades as he is brought to life again with delightful illustrations by Arthur Robins. Mcavity can usually be found in T S Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats but he has been given new life in his own picture book.  This is the perfect combination of pictures and poetry, the second charming picture book from the new Faber and Faber list.  It is as clever a creation as it was when T S Eliot first imagined his trickster cat and it is truly a delight.  This cat will have children and adults giggling, learning at the youngest age how enjoyable poetry can be and pouring over the glorious detail in each and every picture, not wanting to turn the page until they have drunk in every little detail – and there are plenty to see. Baffling, funny, rhyming – a delight for a new generation of Mcavity fans.


Whilst we celebrate the anniversary of Mcavity we should also take some time to remember those authors who are sadly no longer with us but whose books continue to inspire, enthral and touch us with their beauty.  One such book that has inspired and touched me this bank holiday weekend is Jim’s Lion by Russell Hoban and illustrated by Alexis Deacon (Walker Books).  Telling in graphic and prose the story of a little boy needing a life-saving operation and the power of dreams this is a modern fable with a dark magic that has been stunningly captured by Deacon and his pen.  I was moved by the power of the pictures and comforted by the words.  This is a winning combination of writing and drawing that is evocative and important, for children and adults alike.  This is a book to comfort those in pain and fear but to also help us all understand the importance of letting a little magic into our lives.

Then finally for today at least, there was The Duck and the Darklings by Glenda Millard and Stephen Michael King (Allen & Uwin) another book with a dark heart but a light touch and an important fable to tell us all.  This is the story of a sorry and dark underground land where light is but a distant memory until a wounded duck brings hope and solace.  Mended and well she finds her wings and prepares to fly the nest but with her go the people of Dark, whose hearts she has touched and for whom she has a quite beautiful surprise.  Cleverly crafted, perfect for newly independent readers and as a moral tale this is a book to return to again and again, reiterating its message and enjoying its beauty.

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