When they say “Picture Book”, do they mean those books you picked up when you first started reading-the ones with only one or two lines of writing on each page? If that’s the case, I don’t think I have a favourite. Instead I’ll talk about two books both of which, although have plenty of words, are not short on pictures either.
I am very disappointed with myself. I searched everywhere for my Ladybird copy of Dracula but can’t seem to find it. I know its somewhere in my house but knowing Murphy’s Law I’ll probably only find it when I don’t need it or least expect it. I really wanted to show off the little book that made such an impression on me when I was a child. The illustrations especially are beautiful and very vivid.
Luckily, while searching the net, I found an image of the cover (exactly the same as mine)-you can see it on the side.
The story itself is off course, a much shorter version and told in the 3rd person. It’s beautifully written however and still manages to capture the eerie mood of the novel.
I talk about Dracula so much I thought I’d mention another children’s book I absolutely loved (and still do). Witch Stories for Bedtime by various authors is a collection of 7 stories about, yes you guessed it, witches. I read these stories over and over again when I was a kid and I’m not embarrassed to say it, but I think read them well into my teens too!
Along with the gorgeous illustrations by Jane Launchbury these stories are just awesome, and while perusing them now, I can still remember each one.
There is one story (written by Elizabeth Waugh) about the good and kindly Thomasina and her magical island where everything is made of some type of confectionary- from seashells made of bubblegum, to toffee trees and streams of lemonade.
Another tale called “Rachel and the Magic stone” (by Deborah Tyler) is about two witch sisters who keep quarreling over a magic stone given to them.
Then there was a funny one (by Sue Seddon) about a witch who hates cats and is forced to keep one by the Chief Witch. She tries to get rid of the cat but the little feline seems more powerful than her!
There were also some scary and unsettling tales too. Two of the stories seemed to be Hansel and Gretel-inspired while one called “Grumblog” (by Jane Garrett) is about a witch who messes with Mother Nature and then gets her comeuppance in the end.
The Magic Island by Elizabeth Waugh
My favourite story however was entitled “The Witches who Came To Stay” (written by Philip Steele), about 3 sisters who are shipwrecked on an island and impose themselves on a solitary fisherman-the only inhabitant on the island. He’s pissed off, off course, but he’s attracted to the youngest sister who’s quite feisty and verbally abuses him. The women make themselves at home (and a nuisance) and demand that the fisherman have their breakfast ready on time the following morning. They threaten to turn him into all sorts of creatures if he disobeys any of their requests. From this one story I learnt what a porpoise and an archaeopteryx (it’s a type of dinosaur) are. The plucky fisherman steals one of their spellbooks while they’re asleep and starts preparing pies for breakfasts. He adds a special potion to each pie. One sister turns into a fish and he throws her out to sea; the other turns into a seagull and then flies away. The youngest consumes a love potion prepared by the fisherman. She falls in love with him and they live happily ever after. You gotta love it!!
Here are a couple more pics from the book…
The Witch Who Didn't Have A Cat by Sue Seddon
The Witches Who Came To Stay by Philip Steele
With my brain filled with witches and vampires, I must have been one strange kid…