They say every writer is influenced by past lovers of literature, storytellers who made you think about the world and who ultimately brought about a similar love for putting down words on an empty sheet of paper.
Two great books that did this for me was the Australian author and illustrator – Dorothy Wall and Scottish author – Kenneth Graham. The former wrote ‘The Adventures of Blinky Bill’, which I read on a religious basis upon going to bed and the latter ‘The Wind in the Willows’ that caused equally as much page turning and laughter.
Both painted such vivid pictures of the characters’ daily escapades - so much so, I still pick up the books, year-after-year. Stepping back in time is always a great thing; it makes one smile, laugh and at times will bring one to tears.
However, it was not just the writing that captured my imagination. The lively, black, pen and ink drawings of Blinky Bill and his friends and too, the beautiful, wispy watercolours seen in ‘The Wind in the Willows’ are images I still so easily recall. Dad and I would often sit down on my bed to discuss the illustrators’ ability to recreate those mind-stored visions, so easily on paper.
Throughout my childhood, these were some of the books that allowed me to jump into the world of make believe – a very necessary place of existence for all children, as they grow up and quickly enter the world of stark reality. Escapism is the gift of all well-written tales and I am grateful to have had a book-learned, bookworm librarian for my father.
Unfortunately, over the years my original books have suffered greatly with my constant moving from country to country. Upon seeing these delightfully-presented new editions, I could not help, but rock on over to the checkout to lay-down my pennies. As many of you know me well, it wasn’t just for me. Being a teacher - through and through, I love the idea of introducing something new, but classic to the classroom, at the beginning of the year. I’m always thinking of how I can capture the minds of my youngsters, to spur them on to enjoy the education process.
In today’s world, when picking up a physical book appears to be a burden, let alone reading one, I do my very best to impart my love of great literature by reading regularly to and with ‘my kids’, just like my dad did with me.
You can pick up these new editions of two great classics, at every great bookstore – physical of course. ‘The Complete Adventures of Blinky Bill’ is put out by Angus and Robertson – an imprint of Harper Collins Children’s Books. This edition of ‘The Wind in the Willows’, illustrated by Graham Baker-Smith is published by Templar Books. And… need I say, ‘Both these books belong on your bookshelf for easy, family nightly-access.