everything AND the kitchen sink

The book launch last Sunday was a lovely event. Huge thanks to everyone who came and supported us. You can see photos and  read an account of the launch here. You can read a sweet review of my book by talented young writer Libby Brickell here and, if you feel so inclined, you can order a copy of The Second Location for yourself here.

After a hectic five weeks that included surgery, end of semester marking, a book launch, and a grueling trip to Christchurch, a change of pace, as well as a change of scene, was definitely needed. With that objective in mind, we jumped in the car on Friday and drove up to Whangarei to visit one of our favourite second-hand bookshops, aptly named The Piggery because you can joyously wallow, without interruption, among the piles and piles of books lying everywhere around the shop.

The cute kitchen sink model I found at a junk-shop en route to The Piggery seemed to me like a good omen, although Jack gave his usual raised left eyebrow when I unveiled my miniature treasure in the car!

On this occasion though, after wandering around the shop for an hour or more, I had only found one book that I wanted - a very cool book of historical case studies by people who had had out-of-body experiences. I was on the point of seeking out Jack to suggest that we go in search of lunch, when I spotted a small room, barely visible behind a beaded curtain, that said '$1.00 Specials'. When I looked inside I saw a jumbled stack of childrens' picture books tucked into the corner of the tiny space, and when I dug them out to have a closer look, it was as if they had been waiting there for me to find them!

 Etienne-Henri and Gri-Gri by Anico Surany. Illus. Sylvie Selig. New York: Holiday House, 1969.

This is a curious story about a French boy who lives on a houseboat with his parents. His naughty cat Gri-Gri likes to dash off on adventures and Etienne-Henri has no choice but to follow him, even though he knows that he'll get told off when they eventually find their way back to the boat. The illustrations are magic!

Speaking of magic, I know I've raved about Brian Wildsmith before, but  I happened to find two more of his beautifully illustrated books. Here are a selection of  images from a 1996 paperback reprint of A Child's Garden of Verses (1966).

'The Land of Counterpane' was my favourite Stevenson poem when I was little. I had a couple of long illnesses, so this poem about making miniature worlds among the bedclothes meant a lot to me.

The find of the day was this mint condition second edition hardback of Brian Wildsmith's 123 (1965).

I've said it before, and no doubt I'll say it again - Brian Wildsmith's illustrations make me happy - pure and simple.

Another wonderful find was this gorgeous edition of Rumpelstiltskin illustrated by Jacqueline Ayer and published by Collins in 1967. I particularly love the way that Ayer uses a combination of pencil outlines with selected areas of the image coloured in for each of the illustrations:

This is the best Rumpelstiltskin I've seen. Normally he's an ugly, elf-like creature, but I find this strange little man much more convincing.

And last, but certainly not least, I found a book illustrated by ex-pat New Zealand artist, Graham Percy (1938-2008), whose work was the subject of a fabulous exhibition that I saw earlier this year curated by Gregory O'Brien.  The book that accompanied the show is a beautiful tribute to Percy and contains a fantastic selection of his illustrations that reveal the scope of his vivid imagination. Photographs of the interior of Percy's London home add another layer to the book, and reading it feels like wandering through someone else's private wonderland:

The book illustrated by Graham Percy that I found at The Piggery is called The Woodland Gospels according to Captain Beaky and his Band by Jeremy Lloyd (London: Faber, 1984). Although the subject matter of the book  isn't really my thing, Graham Percy's two-page illustrations are spectacular. My photos don't do them justice at all.

A very good day at The Piggery.
Have a great week everyone.

I'll be in full Christmas prezzy production mode this coming week, so stand by for a big show and tell.

Members of my family should take a Mosehouse blog break from now until after Christmas, or you'll spoil the surprise!


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