Friday, 28 November 2014

ReadItDaddy's Book of the Week - Week Ending 28th November 2014 - "Night Post" by Benjamin Read and Laura Trinder (Improper Books)

'At Midnight, when all good folk should be abed, the Night Post rides forth to serve the dead.’ - Victorian Poem

When a book truly becomes a shared experience, it's like a glorious reminiscence. "Hey I saw that bit!" or "Did you spot the..." - delicious energetic chatter ensues when you share stories.

Wordless stories are tricky to get right. You want to be able to convey a plot, a flow, a path through without relying too heavily on the illustrations leading people by the nose - more gently coaxing them in the right direction.

So when we first saw a few early glimpses of "Night Post" by Benjamin Read and Laura Trinder a few weeks ago ahead of its launch, we knew it was going to be something special. You see, straight away it tapped into that idea of a shared experience where observation, curiosity and also a good dose of familiarisation with fantasy all combine together to give anyone reading this wonderfully original wordless story a bit of a head start.

You've probably already sneaked a few glimpses of the book's amazing illustrations via our spotlight preview article from Halloween...

Wonderful wonderful witches! One of our favourite spreads, can you spot your favourite here?

...Night Post is a glorious homage to many fantasy stories but at its core it's the story of a seemingly ordinary everyday postie, who tucks his daughter in at night with a kiss, says goodbye to his wife, picks up his lunch and then heads out to work. Though, instead of heading for the normal post room, this postie has a special key that unlocks a door leading to...The Night Post. Here is where all the mail for (shall we say) "alternative" customers ends up and of course must be delivered just like the traditional mail.

As you'd expect, some of those recipients are a little bit 'out there' From ghouls to ghosts, from witches to sirens, it's a very tricky mail round fraught with danger. But our heroic postie knows how to deal with just about everything the underworld can throw at him on a very busy and hazardous night.

Back to that original point about observation and shared experiences, this book surely can't fail to appeal to just about everyone who's ever picked up a book in the last 100 years or so. Benjamin and Laura's lovingly crafted references and homages to children's characters and stories both old and new never fails to impress. Charlotte gobbled this book up greedily, her sharp little eyes far better at spotting familiar characters than my tired old ones (for instance, she spied Nemo and Dory, tucked away in a scene where Sirens, mermaids and The Creature From The Black Lagoon have taken over the local Lido!)

We also rather liked the Postie's unflappable demeanour, slightly cheeky in fact. Stealing a chunk of lollipop from the Witch from Hansel and Gretel's garden (and once again Charlotte pointing out who that witch looks like! He also comes out of a very familiar looking wardrobe with what looks suspiciously like a box of Turkish Delight!

It's a truly fantastic book, one that we can't stop thinking about and also one we won't stop going on about until you've gone and bought a copy (which you can do via the Improper Books website, or from quality indie comic sellers!)

This is the first publication we've seen from Improper and if it's an indication of the sheer quality of the titles they're publishing, we're going to be camping out on their doorstep to see what they come up with next.

You need this book, you really do! If you have any love for children's fantasy stories, you're going to find so many things in this that will give you goosebumps!

Charlotte's best bit: Too many to choose from but she truly loved spotting a certain magic carpet and lamp nestling in a treasure-filled cave, and also spotting the "Room on the broom" witch soaring through the skies!

Daddy's Favourite bit: Brilliantly clever, original, funny and tinged with a taste of the macabre that just sang out to us like those Sirens in the swimming pool. Utterly glorious to go through this again and again, picking up on all the characters you might've missed the first time round. We absolutely cannot wait for Benjamin and Laura's next collaboration!

(Kindly sent to us for review by Improper Books)

"Night Post"

Written by Benjamin Read

Illustrated by Laura Trinder

Published by Improper Books