Tag Archives: Alexis Deacon

Books read in 2013

I had a few more completed books yet to add. It’s not the end of the year yet is it?? But Goodreads seems to have wrapped it up for me with an email showing me all my listed books from this year in a splendid array. Here they are.

Books 2013 part 1.jpg Books 2013 part 2.jpg Books 2013 part 3

It’s rather lovely to look at them all lined up like that in ‘cover view’. There are some happy highlights that catch my eye, and bring back memories:

• The very first book on the list (at bottom) The King of Slippery Falls – a gentle American coming of age story with a subtle magical element

Soonchild – a sophisticated swan song from Russell Hoban with illustrations by Alexis Deacon;

The ACB with Honora Lee – which was shelved at the library as young adult but was really a charming junior fiction novel. (I kept waiting for something gritty to happen. It wasn’t gritty, but nevertheless told some touching truths.)

The Children of the King – thanks Kezza for this recommendation. Beautiful writing doesn’t come much more beautiful.

• Re-reading the two Alan Garner Tales of Alderley, and then unexpectedly, the new release third book! Golly, that was exciting!

The Sunday Books – a written narrative for Mervyn Peake’s drawings made for his children.

• Anne Fadiman’s At Large and at Small – grown up literary delight

• Re-reading The Shrinking of Treehorn – subtle irony and social comment in a visual format

A Boy and a Bear in a Boat – Hugo recommended it. I finally got around to reading it. So glad I did. Life of Pi meets Waiting for Godot as junior fiction.

• Bob Graham soars the heights with A Bus Called Heaven – what a brilliant, positive social comment. So much to think about and discuss. So much to look at.

• Caught up with the boys on Cressida Cowell’s How to Train Your Dragon books. Up to speed. Waiting for the last book to be published! Aaaah!

• Discovered Isabelle Arsenault via Sally Rippin with Jane, the Fox and Me. Lovely!

• Got around to tackling Lloyd Alexander who was languishing on my shelf. What a wonderful experience! Chronicles of Prydain are a tween / young adult delight, and I loved his autobiographical The Fantastical Adventures of the Invisible Boy.

On a Beam of Light, A story of Albert Einstein – picture book splendour and inspiration for budding young scientists, non-conformists and thinkers.

Count Karlstein – Phillip Pullman’s novelisation of his own early play written for his students to perform at school. A gothic ripping yarn, brimming with humour, personality, drama and… brimstone!

Jackie French’s Chook Book – from a woman with a big heart. An Australian guide to keeping chickens with humanity and thoroughness. It’s not easy to find good Australian back-yard poultry keeping books. (Our climate and other particular challenges require local information, not overseas info, and the available breeds are different.) I have since been lucky to be given a new book from ABC Books The Contented Chook. The combination of these two books should clear up most questions about keeping chickens at home. The former is honest and detailed, and the latter is sumptuous, with many lovely photographs and condensed, practical text.

• Some terrific graphic novels, including The Gigantic Beard that was Evil, and Hope Larson’s version of Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time.

• The pleasure of re-reading my old fave, Whispering in the Wind by Alan Marshall.

• And the delight of reading the work of another vintage Marshall – James Marshall’s George and Martha: the Complete Stories of Two Best Friends.

Reblogged from – A Place to Call Home: trust the post

A Place to Call Home: trust the post.

Click on the image below to go to Alexis Deacon’s blog for information about the exhibition and click on the images further down to go to pages by or about other illustrators, whose envelopes I have found on-line at other times.

Alexis Deacon's illustrated envelope

Alexis Deacon’s illustrated envelope

Illustrated envelope by Tony Ross

Illustrated envelope by Tony Ross

illustrated envelope by Sitoshi Kitamura

illustrated envelope by Sitoshi Kitamura

illustrated envelope by Susan Varley

illustrated envelope by Susan Varley




Soon to read: Soonchild (a review that is not a review)

I am currently illustrating a picture book by Katrina Germein called Thunderstorm Dancing, about a family celebrating a thunderstorm. Guess what I’m using? Yep, pencils! (and ink, and watercolour, and… I’ll probably see how I go with that lot and then improvise.)

Along with texture and line, I am interested in the pattern of light and dark on the page, and I’m making thundery, stormy, windy shapes on my spreads. I love a nice bit of hatching, smudging, scribbling, and a bit of broken line – the indistinct glory of the printmaker’s mark; or the partly erased first, second or third attempt to render a leg in charcoal or pencil. So working in the library the other day, I blissfully looked up some of my favourite illustrators to soak up their inky, graphitey, smudgy vibes. One of them was Alexis Deacon. The books I was expecting to find on the shelves weren’t there (Beegu, Jitterbug Jam) But there was one. Soonchild! In the young adult section. Mmmm… I borrowed it. 

I haven’t started reading it yet, but already I know I need to buy a copy to keep. Just because of Alexis Deacon’s comments in the back of the book, I would buy a copy. About working on this book, he says, ‘Snowy Owl Spirit children, past-wrong ghost wolves, evil mini whalebone demons… I lived with these characters for over a year. I wish it could have been ten.’ (Anyone who feels that way about the story they have spent months illustrating is giving an endorsement I can’t ignore.)

But then there are the illustrations. Oooh, yess. On one spread there is a swirl of (I assume) the aforementioned past-wrong ghost wolves encircling the double page spread like a cyclone – similar to the cyclone form I am using for a spread in Thunderstorm Dancing – but spookier! It reminded me instantly of Pat Marriott’s drawings for Joan Aiken‘s classic book The Wolves of Willoughby Chase. Nothing alike really… but just as scrumptious. (By the way, a quick search for Pat on the internet has brought to light the exciting rumour that Pat Marriott was actually Edward Gorey in disguise! Well, one of his assumed names for early illustrations of Aiken’s books. Is this true? If so I will have to evict the mental image I have of Pat Marriott as a mysterious female.) The rumour link is here. But I don’t know if it will stay.

Anyway, bravo Russell Hoban and Alexis Deacon!

The wonderful Russell Hoban died in December last year, but happily got to hold this beautiful book in his hands before he left. And I’m sure the writing will be just as glorious as the book itself. At the moment I can’t comment on the story. I haven’t read the book yet, only drooled over it.