Thursday, 28 July 2011

The Art of Living: Granny's Bookcase

We are currently staying at Granny's house and spending time rediscovering the bookshelf.  It's amazing to share my childhood books with my son and to journey back to a time when I would sit for hours and ponder over the pictures.  Looking at them again takes me right back as I recall the emotions they evoked and the dreams they inspired.

As children we were always given books as gifts, for which I am so grateful. We also visited the library regularly and we would buy books in the library sales as well as charity shops - something I still do now.  Some of these books still have the library stamp and '25p' felt-tipped on them, along with our own scribbles, grubby marks and food stains, which make them all the more precious relics of the past.

The Hare and the Tortoise based on a fable by La Fontaine, illustrated by Brian Wildsmith, 1966

Brian Wildsmith is one of my favourite Children's Illustrators. He uses pencil chalk, pastel, watercolour and ink to create the most vivid pictures full of nature and movement.  The details of the animals, the meadow grasses and flowers are so beautiful and full of warmth and wonder.  This one has become Gabe's new favourite, for the story as well as the pictures.

The Lazy Bear, Brian Wildsmith, 1973
The Lazy Bear is a great story about friendship with animals drawn in such detail, and a landscape so colourful it stays etched in your mind.

Teddybears 1 to 10 by Susanna Gretz, 1969
This Teddybears book is so memorable mainly because as a child I was quite concerned for the bears as they spun round the washing machine and were pegged out to dry!

Thumbelina, based on the story by Hans Christian Anderson, Illustrated by Elsa Beskow, 1979
 Thumbelina is one of the Hans Christian Anderson stories of which I am most fond, due to having this book read to me from a young age.  I was fascinated by how the tiny girl saved a birds life and who in turn saves her!  The images are so delicate and nostalgic.

The Ships Cat by Alan Aldridge and Richard Adams, 1977
The pictures in The Ships Cat are so vivid in my memory but I couldn't tell you what the story is about.  Reading it now it is quite an unusual story written in verse, it feels more like a grown-up book than a childs.  My own 3 year old is now fascinated by the pictures as I was.  The one that I remember filling me with terror as a child was the one above of the cat chained up in the dungeon - quite macabre!

The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper's Feast by Alan Aldridge and William Plomer, 1973
The Butterfly Ball is another book that I remember clearly as I was completely beguiled by the imagery.  The amazing creature creations are the stuff of dreams, they would make a fantastic animation. As a child I studied all the detail of the elaborate clothing and acessories the creatures wore, and the scenes full of wonder. Apparently the book won the Whitbread Children's Book of the Year award on its release in 1973 - it surely is a classic of the 70's. 

Cannonball Simp by John Birmingham, 1966
John Birmingham is another of my favourite childrens illustrators and I'm always on the lookout for his books for Gabe.  Cannonball Simp is about an ugly little dog who is abandoned.  There's a picture of the abandoned dog that I remember making me feel quite sad - and it still does!  But then the dog finds a friend, a circus clown who is equally lonely.  Together they make an impressive team.  One of the pictures that I loved - so much so that I coloured it all in - is the one above of the party.  It was probably the big cake that appealed!

Joseph's Yard by Charles Keeping, 1969
These two books by Charles Keeping were ones that appealed to me as a curious and thoughtful child.  Maybe because the stories scared me a little.  Joseph's Yard is about destroying something you love and I remember feeling the anguish of the boy.  The images are very powerful with scrawls of ink and colour washes - they are full of all the elements and express so well the emotions of the story.

Wasteground Circus by Charles Keeping, 1975
The Wasteground Circus is about how a desolate urban landscape is taken over by a circus and how the boys discover so much life and colour.  The book used to fill me with fear and fascination maybe as it was set in the city and it was about 2 boys who looked quite cool!  As you turn each page a rainbow of colour evolves until the boys return to their black and white landscape.

Do any of you remember these books from your childhood? What are the books with stories or imagery that have lingered in your mind?  And do you still have copies of them?  Do share them with us here.

This is part of the Art of Living series of posts that bring you all the things we are passionate about and the things we discover in our lives as mamas.

In our Wednesday Woo blog post series we present a selection of things from the Sisters Guild Boutique.

We also have a Monday Makery with ideas for things to make yourself.

And for a glimpse behind the scenes of Sisters Guild we have the A-Z of Sisters Guild here

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