Brian Jacques – Redwall

Posted on 15 June 2010. Filed under: Authors | Tags: , , , |

Brian Jacques is the much celebrated author of the Redwall series of books. He was born on the 15th June in 1939 in Liverpool.

I’ve read a couple of Redwall books and am not much excited by them, but I can see why others would be, they are swashbuckling adventures and the animals have characters based on how the real animals act. The animals have accents which fit well with what we know about these particular animals. Nicely written with some lovely descriptive passages. I can recognise all of this and I still don’t like them. My kids adored them a few years ago and I have friends who think they’re wonderful. One thing I do like about them is the recipes.

Here’s a few facts I’ve gleaned from a smidgeon of research.

He began his professional writing career writing plays, three of them were performed in Liverpool and a child actor in one was Craig Charles who played Dave Lister in Red Dwarf. One of my favourite shows of all time, I can’t watch them enough.

I’m just going to compare him to Kate Bush for a moment, I know, it’s a bit of a stretch, but please bear with me. There was a rumour in the 1980s that when she was at school Bush wrote a song and her teacher refused to believe she’d written it as it was too good, that song was later released and reached the top ten in the charts. Brian Jacques submitted a story to a teacher at the age of 10 and was also disbelieved as the teacher felt he could not possibly have written such a good story.

Jacques was eventually published after a friend submitted a manuscript to the publisher telling him they’d be mad not to publish it. Jacques was soon called to London and given a contract for the next five books.

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Animals In Business

Posted on 10 March 2010. Filed under: Interesting websites | Tags: , , , |

If you’re an animal person you probably looked at the title and thought it was natural, but to some people it isn’t. If you look around while you’re shopping you’ll find that most businesses do not have a cat or a dog or even a bird or a fish helping out. I did a bit of a google search tonight and found a couple of businesses which have a dog, a bird or even a fish and numerous references to businesses that have a cat. The interesting thing here is that the cats in the business outnumber the dogs and cats are almostly solely to be found in book shops. Here is an article comparing cats and dogs in bookshops while here the owner talks about Sam, the cat, leaving nose prints on the window and this one has some fish which customers often feed.

My favourite is Syber’s Books as mentioned in this article. I’ve visited the cats there and one of them is the largest cat I’ve ever seen.

I’m prepared to bet you won’t find a single clothing shop with a live animal in it, nor will you find a homewares shop with a live animal. What would be really lovely is if you can comment about your favourite shop with a live animal, send me a photo and I’ll put it up.

This article has been brought to you by WinewipesOZ who told me about a book tonight and then described it for me. I was struggling for something to write about until she mentioned it.

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Gerald Durrell

Posted on 13 September 2009. Filed under: Authors, Book Reviews | Tags: , , |

Gerald Durrell is one of the authors I remember with fondness from my childhood. The Overloaded Ark was on the shelf and I must have read it at a fairly young age. It had such charm that when I started selling books I made certain to pick up every copy of his works I possibly could with the theory that if I liked it someone else would. That theory must have worked as I have very few copies left.

Gerald Durrell was a totally amazing man, he led a busy life as a naturalist, zookeeper, conservationist, author, and television presenter. He wrote about his life as an animal collector and enthusiast. He spent a great deal of time setting up the Jersey Zoo and Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust (both are now named after him) and from there influenced zoos worldwide in restructuring the habitats for their animals to make them more like the place they came from and also began the first successful captive breeding programme.

I love reading his works they are such a delight. He had a wonderful way of painting people with words and painting animals so that you saw the character in the animal. I’ll just highlight one of the many books he wrote, The Overloaded Ark. I’ve managed to pick up a 1957 paperback edition and it’s very exciting to dip into it just for this review. In the prelude he shows that life in the Cameroons has a different sense of time to life here (or, at least it did back then, I can’t say what it’s like now) and he depicts a driver ant attack while he’s getting his hair cut at the same time as he bought a pair of baby drills. He manages to make the whole scene terribly funny despite describing their bites as agonising. There’s a chapter about a chimp called Cholmondeley, pronounced Chumley, who was a great character. He always wanted to be the life and soul of every occasion, the centre of attention. He apparently became a great television star until he began to have trouble with his teeth, after a couple of escapades in which Durrell describes how Chumley was just trying to get to a party he was put down. The manner in which Durrell writes about Chumley makes you feel he was human and not chimp.

Anyway, this is just one of the wonderful books he wrote. All of the ones I’ve read have the same style and same wonderful paintings of people and character in the animals we see, and we see plenty of animals. This particular copy is not for sale as it remains on my shelf along with about a dozen of his other books.

You might have seen a TV adaptation of one of his works called My Family and Other Animals. In looking them up in IMDB I found two instances. One was a series released in 1987 with Darren Redmayne as Gerald while the other one released in 2005 had Eugene Simon as Gerald. I don’t recall the first but the second one was quite good and gave a very good sense of the book.

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