Thursday 19 September 2013

Tim in Danger by Edward Ardizzone (Francis Lincoln)

Tim in Danger

Written and Illustrated by
Edward Ardizzone

Published by Francis Lincoln Children's Books

It's absolutely wonderful to see the Little Tim books back in print from Francis Lincoln. Edward Ardizzone was always a bit of a hero of mine at school, mostly because he was the uber-talented inkscribe who provided the illustrations for that masterpiece of children's literature, Stig of the Dump by Clive King.

The Little Tim books are full of old-school adventure, thrills and of course as you'd expect from Ardizzone, fabulous inked drawings that perfectly capture the most exciting moments in the story.

In "Tim in Danger", Ginger (who is usually at the centre of any chaos or trouble) has run away to sea. It's up to Tim and Charlotte (needless to say, having a character called Charlotte in a book is an instant win for OUR Charlotte!) to try and track him down and rescue him.

Spotting Ginger departing from the docks on a ship, Tim and Charlotte give chase but soon find that they're press-ganged into working on a ship themselves. Adventures on the high seas are only just beginning, but when a terrible fog envelopes their ship and there's a huge accident, can the plucky duo rise to the challenge of a rescue at sea?

I wondered whether these books could be a hit with today's young audience. Are kids still interested in things like The Famous Five, The Secret Seven or are they a bit too old and twee now? Likewise, are the "Tim" books too evocative of an era long since past (I mean can you imagine three little kids leaving home to go and work on a ship today?)

As usual though, I vastly underestimate children's utterly delectable ability to suspend their disbelief. Why on earth SHOULDN'T children do these things in stories? They are stories, children can do anything - and they do here. For that reason, Charlotte consumed this story voraciously and was very excited at the prospect of finding more Tim and Charlotte (and Ginger of course!) adventures to read.

For me, the real draw is Edward Ardizzone's utterly wonderful artwork. I love working in inks, and it's given me the taste for trying again. Such simple strokes and lines, cross hatching and shading to die for, simple, understated, beautiful and a perfect fit for a thrilling adventure like this.

Charlotte's best bit: Charlotte's expertise in all matters domestic and medical - which really would NOT go down at all well today (but hey, at least Tim was also made to scrub the decks on board ship!)

Daddy's Favourite bit: Edward Ardizzone's art is timeless, perfect and makes me green with envy, I'd love to be able to draw like that!