Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Ongoing inspiration - author-illustrator Roger Duvoisin

Look what I received in the post today!

Front and back cover of Roger Duvoisin's Lonely Veronica pub 1963 -this is the 4th reprint 1974

The text of Lonely Veronica is much longer picture books are supposed to be these days and the story  unusual too.  
How ever did Veronica get lost at the top of a half-finished skyscraper?  
And winched out of a ship - as  the cover shows?  I love how the ship's funnel is just a hint in the bottom corner and how the lines of rigging and net play across the front and back  - and the lettering too!

The first page - 'Veronica's river was do slow and lazy..." 
(Can you see  a happy Veronica  hidden benhind the trees?)

Next spread - "Then one day men came..."It's the end of the world!" cried the hippopotamuses.

But plucky Veronica wants to explore the 'good new days'.  Joe the foreman makes her the machine crew pet and she joins them on a ship to American to work on building and demolishing in New York. 
One day she decides to explore and finds herself in a lift up a half finished skyscraper.

"When dawn awoke Veronica, the city was sunk into deep fog.."

The last spread

Getting down is harder.  She falls and is fed, oddly, by a pigeon called Alexander and finally rescued by Joe again who takes her to live by the old oak tree in his family farm.

All the pictures, in black and white and colour are works of art go add to my long list of Roger Duvoisin's illustrations in my Pintarest list of personal inspiration I put together for the lovely people at Orange Beak Studio 

Lonely Veronica was published by Bodley Head in the UK in 1964, three years after Roger Duvoisin's first book about the strong-minded hippopotamus Veronica,  an old  copy of which has been face out on my shelf for a while.  
Veronica has been republished.   Hum I wonder if Lonely Veronica will be?

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Booktrust Lifetime Achievement Award - ongoing!

'Ongoing' is my new watchword.

I've been moved to resume my blog - to record just a few of many inspiring pearls from the Booktrust Lifetime Achievement Award I was lucky enough to attend today.

When John Burningham stood up to give his acceptance speech  he mentioned that a lifetime achievement award  sounded so FINAL when after 55 years he felt he was just starting!   Having said that, he never dreamed he'd also have the pleasure of receiving flowers from Anthony Browne.

He's working on a new Mr Gumpy - a 40 year old idea pulled out from a drawer but a difficult one...
He and Helen Oxenbury his wife, the joint Award winners, are not giving up.
Not resting on what in their case are a tremendous pile of laurels!
(And neither is Judith Kerr who confided after the event that she was starting a new idea...the difficult stage, she said)
It should be called the 'Ongoing Lifetime Achievement Award'.

Yet, though Helen Oxenbury confessed she almost felt guilty about how much fun she's had over the 50 years of writing and illustrating, it's not easy work.  
Never easy.   

As John Burningham suggested it is the problems  (like how to suggest in a picture, the smell made by a teenage elephant!)  that keep us going. 

In her tribute to Helen Oxenbury,  Nicolette Jones spoke of how was one of the first to really bring diversity into her lively, innovative warm work. Touching to hear John Burningham added later that he reckoned his wife Helen's Farmer Duck was some of the best work ever done!

Anthony Browne talked about how John Burningham was one of a rare breed of a writer-illustrator who is both experimental and reassuring. He cited Come away from the water, Shirley as one example -  a breakthrough book playing on the gap between words and pictures that really fires the child's imagination.

Lauren Child spoke of how Burningham's work changed her life.  She quoted Helen Oxenbury saying about her husband and his book Seasons,  how John 'throws anything at his work'.    The creative freedom - true artistry -  and how the work "makes you react with every part of you (including the part that is still a child) 'just as if you are looking at a Matisse or Bonnard'. 
Also how a book like Would you rather? creates  bonds, generating conversations with old and young. 

And most important of all,  especially in the current climate, is how Burningham tells the truth.  The joy of the relationship his book Grandpa - ending with the 'bigness of the emptiness' of the empy chair...

Last spread from John Burningham's Granpa

Not to end there!  
It was great to see and hear poet (and our fellow picture book crit grouper!) Joseph Coelho talk about the importance of Helen's work for small children. 

And I enjoyed writer and presenter Floella Benjamin's lively introduction which gave us a real sense of just how many children Helen Oxenbury reached with her books and how her work will live on.   

So much more I wish I had noted!
Huge thanks to the host and Booktrust CEO Diana Gerald,  
and to Natascha Biebow and the SCBWI for inviting me to an inspiring moment!

Floella Benjamin & Joseph Coelho giving the award to Helen Oxenbury