Friday, 22 August 2008

anne and I were debating once whether childrens' books on the subject of fear were unnecessarily amplifying the problem, creating fears where they may not have occurred naturally. I had just bought wee hayley campbell, age 3, a book titled Scroggy, the monster who was afraid of the dark. It was part of a series, each one a monster with a different fear. Scroggy (every time I bump into Dave Scroggy I can't help thinking of the monster. sorry, old pal) imagined he saw pink monsters lurking in the nighttime shadows. I thought there was an abstracting process at work, in which fear was removed from any real phenomena and could be isolated and discussed as a concept. One evening I was staring out of the window, frowning in the contemplation of some pressing problem, and the little one came up to me and took my hand and said 'There's no pink monsties, Dad.'

At the Page 45 event two weeks back Richard Chaney was showing me Emily Gravett's (no relation to Paul) Little Mouse's Big Book of Fears which he'd just bought for his son. I was so excited about it that he made me a gift of it and I was too absorbed in it to picture the poor wee lad whom I was dispossessing of a memorable and meaningful experience. Thanks, Richard, and I hope another copy comes to the little chap.

This really is a gorgeously illustrated book, full of tricks and devices and contraptions such as a fold-out map of the Isle of Fright. There are holes and chewed corners, and collages with actual stuck on bits. There is even some complicated word play, where phagophobia, the fear of swallowing is given as the fear of being eaten, and whereamiophobia is the fear of getting lost. Each page is titled with a phobia. This vortex of polaroids jointly illustrates both ablutophobia, the fear of bathing, and hydrophobia, the fear of water.


There is some great cartoon malarkey with feathers:


And the whole package ends with a page made to look like it has been torn out and is just hanging on, titled 'Bibliophobia (Fear of books)'
Little Mouse's Big Book of Fears won the Kate Greenaway Medal for 2008.
***************

Alison Bechdel on that moment, when a friend feels obliged to let you know that your book has just been remaindered. "I got an email from someone today letting me know that Fun Home has been remaindered at Daedalus Books, for the bargain price of $5.98. She meant this kindly, so I could inform my readers..."

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12 Comments:

Blogger Yoga Gal said...

What an enchanting book but then I have a weakness for mice and small rodents. Never suffered from fears of monsters under the bed or in the closet, spiders and lizards never frighten me but then there was enough drama in my house when I was growing up I didn't have to make up monsters. Once again thanks for sharing! Namaste - geri

22 August 2008 6:52:00 pm GMT-5  
Anonymous tita said...

Ooh, that's my kind of book. I checked Emily Gravett's site and found more. I'll try to put some order and hope they ship to where I live. Thanks!

The most fear from my childhood was a monster I've met often in my dreams, that lurked in our old house in its balloon-y form. I might draw it one day, for its form still sticks in my mind.

22 August 2008 7:55:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Matthew Adams said...

Emily Gravett's site is worth checking out just for it's own sake.

Eddie, I think you mentioned somewhere that some publisher's had not wanted to publish your books, but were interested in getting you to illustrate their books, which understandably you turned down. I was wondering if you had ever thought of doing a childrens book by yourself, something that was generally outside of the realm of comics (I know that a lot of the distictions between childrens books, picture books, comics, books for adults etc are rubbish but I don't know how else to put it)?

22 August 2008 8:17:00 pm GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Tita, Emily Gravett's site is so cute! I love the little mouse tracks. As for you Mr. Campbell, march to your own drummer. Write the books you want! Love & namaste - geri a.k.a. Yoga Gal

22 August 2008 10:28:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Christopher Moonlight said...

Kind of raises the bar a bit, doesn't it? These are the things that art is truly about.

23 August 2008 12:37:00 am GMT-5  
Blogger Yoga Gal said...

Dude: To steal a quote from Sting "Sending out an S.O.S." I want so to read your book "Bacchus Book 1:Immortality Isn't Forever" - clever title - but amazon.com states that it isn't in stock.What's a fan girl to do? Please can you give me the 411 (in the States you dail 411 for information) on where I may purchase this book? Thanks Love- namaste - geri

23 August 2008 5:00:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

http://www.topshelfcomix.com/catalog.php?type=14&title=243

Top Shelf has everything. The first vol. of Bacchus is too much of an action compromise for my tatses nowadays. The third is a much better introduction to that world, being a set of rwenty short stories which all connect up into a trip around the Greek islands. that's
Doing the Islands with Bacchus, bacc. vol 3.

23 August 2008 5:09:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Yoga Gal said...

You mean there is no set price? Oh well, a fan girl has to do what a fan girl has to do. Still thank you so much for anwsering my question - being a barfly with a love of sports and gambling your book sounds very interesting! But then once I start talking sports and stats I never land up paiding for a drink - the joys of maidenhood! But seriously, thank you for your help! namaste - geri

23 August 2008 5:23:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger spacedlaw said...

Crumbs! I go on holiday for a week and I forget all about those word recognition thingies and lost my message...

What was I saying?
When you showed me Emily Gravett's book, I went to research the author and found her site. Then I realized why I had had a little feeling of déjà vu: while not having any of her books on my shelves, I have already bought some for friends with children.
I must say that I love the world of children's books illustrations: there is such a vast area of imagination in there and I often buy some - even in languages I cannot read.

Now, on to that lettery thingy...

24 August 2008 10:50:00 am GMT-5  
Anonymous Michael Avolio said...

yoga gal:

Here in the US, Bacchus vol 1 "Immortality Isn't Forever" can be bought directly from Top Shelf.

http://www.topshelfcomix.com/catalog.php?artist=9

Next to bottom section there. They have it listed at $11. Buy it online and they will send it to you. Simple.

(Also, at the very bottom, they tell us of an upcoming two-volume complete Bacchus collection, due in 2010.)

30 August 2008 10:17:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

Hold up!

we've benn talking about offering a huge discount on these older books.
let me confirm before you do anything.
eddie

30 August 2008 10:21:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger ri(ch)aney said...

Glad to see that the book made it safely out of the Canalhouse! Don't worry; William will indeed finally get his copy ... once I've finished with it!

Cheers, Rich

1 September 2008 2:01:00 pm GMT-5  

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