Archives for category: Chris Riddell

Stern Miss Frugle always said

To Peter and his sister,

‘After school you’ll stay behind

If you so much as whisper.’

Then one winter afternoon

While skating on thin ice,

The children saw it crack and Miss

Frugle vanish in a trice.

People wondered where she’d gone,

But no-one really missed her,

And she was never found because

Peter and his sister

didn’t so much as whisper

didn’t so much as whisper.

I bought a copy of Gargling with Jelly by Brian Patten partially because it is illustrated by Chris Riddell. I also bought it because I loved this poem. My brother is named Peter. My sister Clare. Somehow, perhaps this reminded me of them…

Published by Macmillan Children’s Books

Supporting Book Trust (20 pence from the sale of each of these goes to the Book Trust).

There are probably hundreds of colouring-in books that have been published in the last few months or so. Some are better than others.

They contain designs of every sort and type of subject you can imagine: mythical, self-help, (anti-stress / calming etc), literary, seasonal, religious, geographic, magical, oriental, animals (numerous numbers of these of a vastly different types), architecture, shapes, therapy, and botany, to name just a few. Everyone seems to be doing it – our tables are laden with large and small square books.

They are often listed as Adult Colouring books. They aren’t really ‘adult’ in the sense of content of a film being 18+ They are just full of detail, well, some are, and it is assumed that any listed as adult must be more complicated and, therefore, be more difficult to do.

In my view this does not mean that children don’t have the patience or ability to colour these books. They do – it’s just that suddenly adults have been persuaded that this is the ‘new’ thing. I suppose it is for them.

There is only one practical art book that I have regularly sold (previously the subject of a post on this blog) – Drawing for the Artistically Undiscovered (by Quinten Blake and John Cassidy) and now there is this new book by Chris Riddell.

This small paperback is full of 366 things to draw, colour in or doodle – one for every day of the year.
Stuffed with drawings from Chris Riddell’s work, some of which I have seen before, others I haven’t. I have bought two copies – an extravagance, but a necessary one.

I intend to use one and to colour in, draw and doodle as directed…The other I shall keep as it is – and perhaps one day I will meet him again and be able to ask him to sign both copies for me… It is a practical art book for fans of his work and suitable for everyone from around six through to 110..or as long as they can hold a pencil, and see.

My favourite date in the book is March the 14th – a Story Starter page… Yes the book includes space for you to write too…should you wish…

It doesn’t go into the ‘science’ particularly, of how to draw, it is more of an encouragement for everyone to start and to keep drawing. Both Drawing for the Artistically Undiscovered and this complement each other and should be bought as a set…

In addition to being filled with his wonderful art work – 20 pence of the sale of each volume goes to the Book Trust – a charity that promotes reading….and what could be better than that?

Published by Puffin / ISBN 978 0141338675

This is a gorgeous book about how everyone is different and everyone is ‘something else’.

A small blue creature finds that he is not tall enough and doesn’t have good enough  hand to eye coordination to play with the others – and he quickly realises that to be ‘something else‘ isn’t a good thing and goes home. A while later a different creature turns up on his doorstep and really just asks if he can be his friend, if they can hang out together, but he’s different, he’s ‘something else’. Our little blue monster starts to turn him away. Just before he does, though, he realises that if he really is something else, then really, they are both the same (though different) and they make friends.

Everything is fine, until something else knocks on his door….Sadly I haven’t been able to track down a picture of that particular ‘something else’, so you will have to buy the book to see…

Illustrated by that superb author and artist Chris Riddell…

Published by Pan Macmillan

Ottoline and the Yellow Cat: ISBN 9781405050579

Ottoline goes to School ISBN 9781405050586

Ottoline at Sea ISBN 9781405050593

Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse / Hardback / ISBN 9780230759800

Goth Girl and the Fete worse than Death / Hardback /  ISBN 978 0230759824

Goth Girl and the Wuthering Fright / Hardback / ISBN 978 1447277897

Goth Girl and the Pirate Queen /  Paperback / ISBN 978 1447282417

My first piece of advice is to buy all these books in hardback. Macmillan have out done themselves with the hardback editions. They really are some of the nicest well produced volumes for this group (actually for any age group) and make superb gifts. They really are very special.

The first book was Ottoline and the Yellow Cat – the red one. Then follows Ottoline Goes to School, the purple, and last, but certainly not least is Ottoline goes to Sea (blue and my favourite – because of the manatees)Each book has an additional bit – one has a selection of stickers in the back, another has some special goggles and one has postcards. The books are filled – absolutely to the top with Chris Riddell’s superb illustrations. Some pages have no text all, others just a little. Some pictures have little notes all over them. They are glorious for those young ladies (these really are for young ladies, I’m afraid) who are just ‘getting their feet’ with reading – so the odd page which is totally given over to illustration is wonderful. To be read with an adult or not, depending on how confident you are – they really are gems – gorgeous.

The paperbacks, by their very generic existence, in comparison to the hardback are nice, but nothing like as gorgeous and satisfying as the hardbacks. The stories are fun and clever too. You really can’t go wrong with these.

Then came The Goth Girl books – three regular novels in hardback, and one of those World Book Day books as a small ‘extra’ in paperback – Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse, Goth Girl and the Fete worse than Death, Goth Girl and The Wuthering Fright (this is not yet published – 24th September 2015) and Goth Girl and the Pirate Queen.
It is to be hoped that the publishers never degenerate the hardbacks to paperback as they have with the Ottoline books.

These hardbacks have sumptuous end papers (see above and below) and are again filled with illustration. They are for older readers without a doubt – there are references to literary ‘master-pieces’ – Moby Dick for one, but it is once again the plots and the pure design and beauty of these books that will give as much pleasure as the stories themselves. Buy these too, in hardback, before they do something dreadful with them – Once paperbacks are produced, it is often the case that the hardbacks die-out/become extinct and really that just would not do.

If you are wondering if you should purchase any of these now, because your daughter is a little young for them yet, I suggest you buy them as an investment for the future. They really are wonderful – both the Ottoline  and The Goth Girl books. Buy them in hardback whilst you may. There are after all only five of them…and not only do the Goth Girl volumes (the hardbacks, published so far) have the wonderful end papers, but they also have their edges purple or red (depending on the title) – as special books used to be gilded – so ‘all edges purpled/red’ – what more could anyone want?

NB. On revisiting this post it seems my pictures are not being displayed. My only advice, since I can’t seem to get WordPress to do so, is to find them as soon as you can and buy them. The publishers will without doubt one day decide the hardbacks are too expensive , and then if you haven’t bought them, you will certainly regret it.