In my bid to keep my heart close to the written word, I have dedicated this post to a few old favourites of mine and quite possibly yours.
The Giant Jam Sandwich by John Vernon Lord and Janet Burroway.
I am so pleased Macmillan have published a new edition of this and it has maintained its charm with the authentic illustrations of John Vernon Lord. The book is made up substantially of the pictures and that’s the way it should be. In particular this story evokes such imagery of a giant sandwich being flown across the town of Itching Down that it would be rude not to satisfy the reader with a beautiful array of pictures.
The townspeople of Itching Down are invaded by a swarm…a big swarm of wasps. Towns-people are run out of town and a few even succumb to the wrath of the wasps, which is quite terrifying but this element to the story is juxtaposed well with the local baker’s wacky resolution, which is to make a giant sandwich, slather it with jam and lure the wasps into the sweet, succulent jammy sandwich until SQUISH they get smushed into the sandwich.
Now i’m not one for eating a waspy jam sandwich and the story has quite possibly put me off eating a jam sandwich recently but what a fantastic, crazy tale which shows a town pulling together for, well their lives.
What I loved is how relatable it is to Gulliver’s Travels and this intertextuality is only achieved through the commendable illustrations. Have a look for yourself and you will see what i mean.
This book is probably more suited to those of a higher age range reading picture books purely for the wrath of wasps. I’m a grown adult and I still run around trying to whack them with the newspaper…they get rather angry.
The Alfie Books by Shirley Hughes
Oh, how I adore these books but to my dismay they seem to have been overlooked by many of my friends. When I try to remind them of these wonderful books, my friends simply draw a blank. Perhaps it takes a visual stimulant to remember a childhood book, that has certainly been the case for me in the past.
Shirley Hughes is such a wonderful woman, admirable even. Last year i watched the BBC2 documentaries ‘When We Were Very Young’ about picture books and children’s books in general. It was a truly wonderful watch and showed the parallels between picture books from the past and picture books today. Some things are inevitable in change and yet it is comforting to know that much remains the same and i’m sure many of you will join me in praising the importance and presence of the picture book.
One tale I remember well is when Alfie’s parents go out for the evening and so he and his sister are stuck with the babysitter. Just him, the babysitter and the ever-adorable Annie-Rose. So many things happen; there’s a flood in the bathroom and Annie- Rose wont sleep. They’re simple things, yet so important and part of the family dynamic which Shirley catches so well in her stories. Perhaps this is why the stories are still in print today?
Many of the picture books now comes in gold anniversary editions, copies to treasure for years to come.