06 February 2008

Emily Gravett

I think I've probably already told everybody I know just how much of a genius I think Emily Gravett is; so I'm putting this on the blog in the possibly unrealistic hope that there are people reading the blog who I don't know, and so now I can tell you about her too...

Emily G is the illustrator/author of Orange Pear Apple Bear, which I chose as my 'children's book of the year' in 2006; this was the most economical picture book I'd ever seen, which managed with a very small vocabulary (five words) and very simple, recurring images to create something with enormous wit and charm and even a sort of narrative shape. And so charming - really, what a charming bear! The same year saw the hilarious (and rather unnerving) Wolves, and she's since followed those up with Monkey and Me, Meerkat Mail, and latterly the superb Little Mouse's Big Book of Fears, a real masterpiece of imagination and detail (and much praise here too for her publishers Macmillan, for the production values that go into making her books special, lovely, carefully thought-through objects).

And after this embarrassment of riches - all appearing in such quick succession - yesterday I got my hands on an advance copy of the imminently published The Odd Egg. I always worry with someone I admire so much that they'll produce something that'll disappoint me, as I set the bar so high, but this one is vintage Gravett and I love it love it love it. (And have carried it around with me all day to show people.) With a simplicity of language, with something that made me laugh on (literally) every single page - and the often unlikely humour is in the pictures most of the time, which is refreshingly unusual - but above all those now-familiar confident, warm and really just beautiful watercolour illustrations, making each page a pleasure to look at, each character lovely and detailed and just packed with charm. What a pleasure.

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