The A B C DIARY
The ABCDiary is one of the oldest forms of children's book, and goes right back to the horn book and Battledore of the sixteenth century. Alphabet rhymes have remained a constant favorite in Britain and America. From A Apple Pie, through Edward Lear's nonsense alphabets to the gambols of Maurice Sendak's Alligator's All Around the form kept going strong and attracting top talent. My own rhyme starts with he Classic line from a time honored alphabet rhyme 'A was an Archer' and then goes it merry way to end with a Zebra and her soiled underwear.
THE COLOUR OF POO
Rose's Rainbow Bottoms. This large format book will be a poke in the eye for those few grim little texts which like to take a severe and earnest approach to bodily functions when they must be explained to the infant mind. What adults tend to forget is that for children what comes out of them is infinitely more reassuring that what goes into them.
The book is based on the strictest scientific research and every fact in it has been verified under laboratory conditions. It can do no harm to any child whose parents happen upon it.
The book started out in the form of a large relief etching, a technique which William Blake made his own in his so called 'illuminated books', but which has been virtually forgotten since. The plate is not printed like an etching or engraving, but ink is rolled onto the raised surfaces as with a wood cut. I then coloured the prints by hand. I later decided to cut the plate into a series of small rectangles and so it could be printed as a sequential set of book illustrations. The resulting chapbook illustrated the dietary conundrums set out below. Choosing food is one of life's constant puzzles.
The spotted snail with bright blue shell glides by in a dream,
What food does it dream about, a leaf or an iced-cream?
The spiny hedgehog’s sitting down, you cannot see her tail,
What titbit is she hoping for, that bright egg, or a whale?
Fat rabbit with a spotted coat, far softer than a rug,
What do you fancy for a snack, a carrot or a bug?
A lovely mottled pouncing cat, if she had her wish
Would she dine on spider, or on flying fish?
The humongous sperm whale, needs a lot to eat,
Is a cat or octopus her very favourite treat?
There's a bird too stout to fly, or perch up in a tree,
What food is his mind set-on, a flower or a bee?
This hungry rat is creeping on, for mile after mile,
What does he want to munch on, a chick or crocodile?
An octopus on the sea floor is flailing all his legs,
Is his breakfast hedgehog, or spotted fish’s eggs?
This carp fish with its hungry mouth is clearly on the make
Would he eat a rabbit, or a water snake?
The Fable is one on the most ancient forms of narrative and has always straddled adult and children's thought and literature, it is outside age and gender. In this projects I readdressed some old favorites.
Opposite is the final illustration for my retelling of the story about the two fishermen who try to make fish dance by playing them music. They find to their horror that the fish will only dance when pulled up in their nets. A literal dance of death. The text for this picture is as follows:
They cast their nets into the river and after a while they drew them in. It was a very good catch. There were hundreds of fishes of all the colours of the rainbow. And in the net the fishes were all leaping about, over one another, and onto one another. Some were even jumping up, almost as if they were waltzing.
Well the fish are dancing now, thought the brothers, and smiled grimly at each other.
What the wasp saw
The wasp flew through the air and saw a shiny bowl beneath it. "A good solid place to land" Thought the wasp. But when it tried to land the Wasp found the bowl
was all warm, and greasy, as if someone had spread butter all over it, and the wasp's feet began to slip and slide. Angry with the bowl the wasp stung it hard.
What the bald man felt
The bald man was sitting quietly, when he felt a sudden pain, like a knitting needle going into his head. I’ve been stung, he thought, and quick as a flash his hand came down on the top of his head with a huge SMACK, and the gust of wind that his strong hand made blew the wasp to safety. The pain from the smack was much worse than the pain from the sting. That’s a lot of pain.
The Fox and the Crane
‘Open Wide’ Said the Crane and the Fox opened his long jaws as wide as he could.
When the crane saw the huge long thin sharp teeth, standing up like ivory nails, she jumped back, and her feathers turned bright yellow and her beak turned white. All this through sheer terror. But she overcame her terror, and slowly put her beak further and further in. It began to get dark around her, as if dusk were coming on. The crane thought that she would faint because it was so dark and smelled of meat.
Just when she could bear it no more, TAP TAP TAP..... her beak touched something hard. The bone! Quick as a flash she grasped it, shook it loose and pulled it out.
BRIGHT COLOURS AND DIRTY COLOURS
The rationale for Bright Colours Dirty Colours was to celebrate the colours which are traditionally absent from children's books, the colours of bruises and cuts, the colours of rain, much and muck. It is a celebration of all those earth colours we take for granted.
Orange is just and Orange
Thursday fell down and bruised his bum, bruises are purple and they have to come out.
Friday was a blue courgette, or was it green? It was that green that sometimes looks blue, or bluish green or greenish blue. This blue green needed a name so they decided to call it turquoise.
On Sunday there was a bit of a revolution. The bright colours were not all the colours, no, not by a long chalk. There were murmurings and sighs, and sadness from the dim colours that were always left out. And so a call was sent out to all the colours that had been neglected. They were mud colours, rain colours, tired colours, earth colours, dirty colours, strong colours. They were tired of being left out.