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Tag Archives: personal essays

Why study picture books?

Why do I study picture books? In order to answer this question, it is necessary to change the subject completely, and introduce my very favourite piece of pre-Raphaelite art.

This is The Awakening Conscience. It’s by William Holman Hunt and it was finished in 1853. At first glance it is a moment between husband and wife captured in time. But look closer. Why is the woman in her nightgown? Where is her wedding ring? See his hat and book on the table? The man is a visitor in this parlour: They are not husband and wife, they are lover and mistress. Read the rest of this entry

The KidLit I can’t bear to part with

Van Gogh, The Novel Reader, 1888. Oil on canvas

Unsurprisingly, I have quite a large number of kids’ books. Most of them have found their way to me in the last few years, when my academic interest in the genre was piqued. Some of them, though, have been with me since I was a wee young thing myself.

The first of them, Peepo!, is thirty years old this year. I know this because my local WHSmith, inexplicably, is holding a buy-one-get-one-half-price event to honour the fact. This is not, as one might expect, an offer on all picture books, or even just picture books from the (considerable) Ahlberg catalogue, but on one book. Unless you have two children who are particularly reluctant to share, or are chronically unable to resist a bargain, seems to me entirely inexplicable. I adore Peepo!, but I cannot imagine a situation in which I would be compelled to buy two identical copies. Read the rest of this entry