• Posted on August 29, 2010

Out of the Mouths of Bebés

Interesting idea for a book. Award winning Argentinian poet Jorge Luján canvased children throughout Latin America, via the internet, enquiring about their pets, which included everything from dogs to a poetry-hating marmot. He then ‘shaped the children’s thoughts and feelings’ into this collection of absolutely delightful poems, which read like humourous little glimpses into the lives and minds of children. It’s not all frogs, and snails and puppy-dog tails, there’s some sugar and spice too, but Doggy Slippers is quite simply, a joy. It almost makes me wish I had kids.

Children have a freshness of thought and an unfiltered honesty which makes them a hit at parties and occasionally, and embarrassment at the dinner table, but as evidenced in Doggy Slippers, children are natural poets, especially when it comes to expressions of the heart, and the love of a good monkey.

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  • Posted on August 25, 2010

Mr Smith Goes to Frip

If you are an admirer of quirky illustration, and you’ve never heard of Lane Smith, then clearly, you don’t know Jack. If you collect beautiful picture books, and The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip is not part of your collection, your collection doesn’t know Jack. And if  you own a goat, and you’ve never checked them for gappers, not even once, then forget about Jack, you need to know Capable, the spiky-haired, brighter than bright heroine of this strange and deceptively brilliant story.

The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip is an inspired collaboration between two artists at the peak of their excellence and eccentricity: George Saunders, humourist & short story fabulist, and Lane Smith, visual maverick & current focus of my deepest jealousy. The writing, illustration, design, and ideas expressed in this book elevate it beyond the usual children’s picture book fare, and even beyond the unusual. It’s a true gem.

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  • Posted on August 17, 2010

How Pleasant to Know Mr Boshblobberbosh

Edward Lear, J. Patrick Lewis and Gary Kelley walk into a bar…


The trio have not come together as the preamble to an old joke. They are in fact, the inspiration for, and the creators of Boshblobberbosh, one of the most beautiful and unusual picture books ever published for children, and more than a few adults who collect this sort of nonsense.

Boshblobberbosh is a loving homage to Edward Lear: parrot-painter and word confabulist, devotee of all things furred and feathered (with the exception of dogs and camels), companion to a cat named Foss, who lived for 31 years*, and a man who was, in all respects, the King of High Bosh.

Although the book is written by prolific author and poet, J. Patrick Lewis, the poems are inspired by Lear’s extraordinary life. With every ‘runcible’ word, tumbling across each oversized page, up one side and down the other, in the rich, almost sculptural thereness of the illustrations, Boshblobberbosh is a one-book argument against the digitalization of print literature, in particular, illustrated print literature.

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  • Posted on August 02, 2010

Yer Luvin’ Uncle Bert

Bert Fegg’s Nasty Book for Boys and Girls was, without a doubt, my favourite book as a teenager. I found it in the bargain bin at a Cole’s bookstore in 1979, or maybe 1980. If I remember correctly, a shaft of light came down from the heavens and illuminated the word ‘Nasty‘, and I was powerless to resist. Also, it was a buck. I’ve had many serendipitous moments in bookstores, but clearly the hand of god was involved in this transaction.

The book is supposedly written by Bert Fegg, a disheveled and bulbous crank, but this assemblage of wiseacrey is in fact, penned by Terry Jones and Michael Palin, of Monty Python fame. It is not unlike an episode of MPFC in the variety of content, but it has, you know, more words. And the sarcasm is directed toward traditional children’s fare such as school texts, annuals, games, and comic strips. It’s a beautiful mash-up of satire and silliness, packaged and illustrated by Martin and Lolly Honeysett, who have a definite Gilliamesque flare for the absurd. The mostly black & white illustrations of pervy scribes, Turkish Wall Goats, and inebriated dogs had a huge influence on my drawing style as a kid. Suffice to say, I was never the same after Bert Fegg’s Nasty Book For Boys and Girls.

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