Tuesday, 23 June 2020

#Booky100Keepers Day 51: The Little Tim Books by Edward Ardizzone (Picture Puffin / Frances Lincoln)

Sometimes a book's popularity with little miss would completely take me by surprise, as was the case with Edward Ardizzone's "Little Tim" series.

These are classic books, no doubt about it, but when lined up against modern picture books they look slightly quaint and out-of-date, and the core themes in each book are also so far removed from what children experience in their own lives, that you'd really struggle to understand why they appeal.

Of course, there's the answer. It's precisely BECAUSE kids can live vicariously through Little Tim's adventures as a would-be sailor, and experience the excitement of what life would have been like on the ocean waves over 80 years ago - when these books were written and set - and when most boys wanted to be one of two things, an Engine Driver or a jolly Jack Tar.

In "Little Tim and the Brave Sea Captain" Tim wants nothing more than to go to sea aboard a ship. He's given his wish on a day trip aboard a fine vessel, with a sea captain friend to show him the ropes. But soon there's a massive storm and the ship is in danger - and it takes all the captain's nerve (plus a little help from Tim) to rescue the crew and set foot safely back on shore.

What we liked about these books are their length. Again I am here ranting about the length of children's picture books, and the bleated excuses that the reasons picture books aren't longer is purely because children's attention spans can't cope with wordier books. It has nothing to do with the economics of printing more than 32 pages / 12 spreads, oh nossireee!

These books are indeed long, their language may seem a bit prissy and old-fashioned but Edward Ardizzone's innate talent in both illustrating and describing the scenes within is why he's such a legend, and why he's cited as such a huge inspiration to a lot of authors and illustrators, even those whose work is popular today.

(One word of caution. If you're looking for copies of these, try and find the originals before they were 'messed around with' and recoloured. The colour versions are horrible, completely ruining the effect Ardizzone's original inky drawings had).

For sheer escapism if nothing else, these books are well and truly worthy keepers and the sort of future family heirlooms you'll want your own kids to pass on to theirs eventually.

Original Review Links: 

Little Tim and the Brave Sea Captain (80th Anniversary Collector's Edition) by Edward Ardizzone (Frances Lincoln Children's Books)

Exciting action and adventure on the high seas with the Little Tim series by Edward Ardizzone (Frances Lincoln Children's Books)

Tim in Danger by Edward Ardizzone (Francis Lincoln)