Tuesday 1 January 2008

On Angel Wings

Here's this Christmas's most treasured addition to the Christmas Book Box - On Angel Wings by Michael Morpurgo, with illustrations by the incomparable Quentin Blake .

It's a lovely little hardback book which tells the tale - as recounted by an old man to his grandchildren - of a young shepherd boy, left behind in the dark to look after the sheep on the night of the first Christmas, while all the other shepherds have gone to visit the stable in Bethlehem.

The Angel Gabriel returns to the hillside, scoops up the forgotten boy and flies him post-haste to see the newborn King (leaving some of his herald angel friends to look after the sheep). The boy arrives at the stable before the rest of his family and is thus the very first visitor. He gets to hold the baby and leaves his hand-carved crook as a birthday gift before Gabriel whisks him back to his flock before the others return. He never tells a soul about his adventure until many years later.

The story is beautifully told but, as might be expected, it's Quentin Blake's gloriously inventive illustrations which make the book so special.

And this copy is more special still, because it's been inscribed for Small Doyle #3 by the artist himself. What a fabulous Christmas present!

Quentin Blake's website is well worth a visit - there is a 10-minute video about the genesis of a picture book here and short film about Blake's long association with Jackanory on BBC1 here (he worked on 150 Jackanory programmes!) and a slideshow with views of his studio, which is just delicious.

1 comment:

monix said...

Michael Morpurgo is one of our local celebrities but is not at all 'celebish'. He does a great deal to encourage young readers and writers and is much loved in our local schools.

I think if I ever got sent to that desert island, my one book would be a complete collection of Quentin Blake illustrations - you needn't send the search party for years!