The first book I ever remember reading and finishing on my own as a child is Maurice Sendak’s timeless Where the Wild Things Are. The deceptively simple story belies a multi-layered tale of imagination combined with a healthy dose of childhood rebellion. The idea of a journey leading to unknown adventure struck a chord with my younger self that continues to inform my writing to this day. I love Maurice Sendak’s economy of story-telling. In just 338 words, combined with his stylistically evocative artwork across 40 pages, he’s able to weave a fabulous story that brims with exploration and delight. Incredibly when it was first published it was a critical failure that garnered many a negative review, however teachers and librarians soon realised that children were flocking to the book. I love this idea that it was the children who made the book such a success; it kind of aligns real-life with the whole purpose of the story.
A chance online discussion recently reinvigorated my interest in, and enthusiasm for this type of story-telling. Sam Cabbage is a new publisher about to launch a new company specialising in picture books. The first two books slated for publication share more than a passing similarity to the themes of Maurice Sendak’s classic, particularly the journey of the imagination.
Charlie and the Hot Air Balloon is written by Nerris Nassiri (who is both a pilot and film-maker…and previously worked for Disney!) and illustrated by Jessica White and tells a strangely haunting tale of young boy’s yearning to see his mother again. Like so many great stories much is left to the reader’s own interpretation, and while it covers loss (and the feeling of this is palpable throughout), there’s a lot of positivity to be taken from the themes of determination, family and sacrifice. While still a work in progress it promises to be something quite uniquely touching.
Rumtum the Sailor by Kyle Duffy and illustrated by Mary Manning is both verbally and visually animated without ever becoming cartoonish. Told in rhyme throughout (in itself a tricky device to pull off successfully), and in contrast to Charlie and the Hot Air Balloon, this is a larger than life tale all about titular sailor’s adventure as he sets sail alone and winds up shipwrecked on a desert island. I particularly enjoyed the fact that, much like Max in Where the Wild Things Are, Rumtum is determined to be home in time for supper (although whether that supper is ‘still warm’ remains to be seen!).
Sam is running a Kickstarter campaign to support the launch of her publishing company, A Belletristic Wander, and both Charlie and the Hot Air Balloon and Rumtum the Sailor can be pre-ordered by clicking here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/117850573/a-belletristic-wander-publishing-enduring-children?ref=74co5q&token=6b06655b and you can also support the campaign.
Go on…show them some love! I can’t wait to see the finished products…