This very beautiful and lyrical extended version of the fairy tale ‘The Wild Swans’ by Hans Christian Andersen is the much anticipated companion to East of the Sun, West of the Moon. With strong characterization of the heroine and also with more rounded characterization of the wicked stepmother than in the original version, and with delicate watercolor paintings throughout, this is both a wonderful story and delightful gift.
About the Author
Jackie Morris lives in Pembrokeshire, Wales, with children, dogs and cats. Ever since leaving college, Bath Academy of Art, at least one cat has watched over her while she works. Big cats and small are a passion in her life, and it was while reading and watching her cat Pixie sleeping in winter that the idea for I am Cat came about. Among her many books for Frances Lincoln are The Ice Bear, The Snow Leopard, and Tell me a Dragon.
Favourite Children’s Illustrators:
Maurice Sendak, for The Wild Things mostly. I love his drawings.
James Mayhew, again when you see his sketches you realise what an excellent draftsman he is, with such an observant eye.
Brian Wildsmith whose work dances with colour.
Rebecca Dautremer, a French illustrator whose work really shines.
Shaun Tan, who can work with equal skill in many mediums and who designs right out to the very edges of his books.
Fables and fairytale:
I love stories. Last night I went to hear a travelling troupe of musicians and storytellers, The Devil’s Violin. It was the second time I had heard them tell this series of tales. Wonderfl stories about forbidden things and I hadn’t realised how one particular tale had seeded in my head and heart.
I love that tradition of telling where tales such as Beowulf have passed from mouth to ear over centuries and changed and moved and grown in the telling. But, increasingly I fear I side with the minotaur, with Grendel and his mother, with the ‘villains’ of stories. Because stories are always told by the victor, and sometimes the villain can become the hero.
Vintage books I couldn’t do without?
Well, I have to confess it makes my heart sink when I am in a bookshop and someone is buying yet again the ‘classics’ for their children or grandchildren. There is a wealth of new writing out there, written by writers who are alive, writing books that are relevant to today, will resonate with today’s children and young people in a way that Swallows and Amazons resonated with the children that was written for many years ago. I know it will cause controversy, but maybe I think this was because I didn’t read these ‘classic‘ vintage books when I was a child. You see I didn’t really have anyone guiding my reading, and until I was about 12 I would have struggled to read. I read Peter Pan in my 20’s. I would NEVER give that book to a child. The language is archaic, the story, if read as an adult takes on a different hue. It’s beautiful.
Tarka the Otter by Henry Williamson, I read and loved.
Jack London’s White Fang and Call of the Wild, utterly wonderful. The Wind in the Willows left me cold. We HAD to read it at school and I detested the pompous Mr Toad ( who I have met many times in my life) and was overjoyed when the weasels of the wildwood took over his house. Loved the pictures though.
But if you look at modern literature you have shining books that will be classics of the future, like Meg Rosoff’s How I Live Now, Patrick Ness’s The Knife of Never Letting Go and A Monster Calls ( the illustrated versions) The Brides of Rollrock Island and Tender Morsels by Margo Lannagan. All of these can be read by adults and children alike. And there are so many more.
One copy of the Wild Swans. US/Canada only.
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