Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Memories of a Reader

Ever since a little girl, I loved books.

I liked the feel of them, the colours within them, and the unseen magic that could move me from the settee to another world entirely. The weekend started for me on a Saturday morning, when my mother and I would walk down to the old library so I could choose the following week’s entertainment. Would I go to a boarding school this week and swim in Malory Towers glorious outdoor rock pool? Would I join the animals on the other side of the stream, across the field in Brambly Hedge? Would I be the sixth, sadly silent member of the Famous Five? It was very exciting and I would debate for hours, to the consternation of my mum, who really wanted to get to Tesco to buy some pork chops for dinner.

The first picture books I can remember enjoying were:

Moving Molly by Shirley Hughes

Phoebe and the Hot Water Bottles by Terry Furchgott and Linda Dawson

Mog the Forgetful Cat by Judith Kerr

Haunted House by Jan Pieńkowski

The Church Mouse by Graham Oakley

The Cat in the Hat by Dr Seuss

Precisely why did I love these so? It hasn’t escaped my notice that four of the six stories have cats within them somewhere, whether in the title or in the illustrations. So even from a young age, personal choice is rife, as I wanted a cat so badly… In fact, that is not strictly true. At a very young age I actually wanted to be a cat, I did wonder why most adults raised their eyebrows when asking me what I wanted to be when I was grown up...

Three of the six have excellent and detailed illustration – Moving Molly, Phoebe, and The Church Mice – in each of these you will find illustrations that include items or people not mentioned in the text, leaving you as a reader free to spot more clues about that world in your own time. Mog was a sweet little story I liked to return to, it was a ‘quick read’, not to study too closely as there was not a lot else in the illustrations to look at. The Cat in the Hat (and all illustrations in Dr Seuss) used to scare me, something about these manic, so-intent little creatures, with weird swished hands and feet – I was intrigued by it, and thought it funny, but just a tad alarming. They were all so mad… Even the characters supposedly in charge were mad... I think adults behaving irrationally either in fiction or real-life, is one of the most scariest things for a child to comprehend… Haunted House was another ‘mad’ thing – I loved this book, but to my dismay never owned a copy.

So – detailed illustrations ‘when you were in the mood’, somewhat scary topics or pictures, and cats. Lots of cats. This was the foundation for my life as a reader, books I chose myself, that I was happy to return to. But of course, the flip side to that is books you were told to read... But that is for tomorrow.


idil o. calvero said...

Great job, great month! Sharing the same dream by the way... however given up writing stories for the sake of illustrating them!(yes still dreaming) We sould make some money ;)

Jayne Ferst said...

Hello! I am very glad you liked it. I just popped over to your blog and what wonderful illustrations, really bold and colourful! So you are sharing the same dream eh - fantastic! As for making money, yes, that would be very nice one day!! :)

a4annie said...

I know this is a very old post but I found it and was very pleased to see your favourites are also mine! I LOVED Phoebe and the Hot Water Bottles, and Moving Molly, and the Mog books (my favourite was Mog's Christmas). If you ask my Mum she'd agree --these were the stories she read to me most often.

I think the reason I loved them all was that they had really lovely, identifiable narratives. I loved the illustrations too, but the fact that some kind of journey/mission took place in each one was significant, and also the fact that the main character in each one (all girls) overcame a fear and/or demonstrated some kind of strength was also important.

I also loved Shirley Hughes' 'Dogger', which features a big sister (Bella) as the hero.

All the best with your illustration!

Jayne said...

Hello Annie! So pleased you found this post and left me a comment, especially as we share many favourite books. Ah Mog... I still cannot bring myself to read the book where Mog 'dies' - I just know I'd be in tears reading it!

That is a very interesting thought about the journey/mission, and the female lead overcoming a fear/showing a strength. I hadn't thought of that before but yes, that was probably a lot of the appeal, too.

And thank you! I see you haven't a blog, but if you do ever start one do let me know so I can return a visit!