Books from one’s childhood are incredibly evocative. At least they are for me. My mother was a primary school teacher, so we had books. We went to the library. Words and pictures, words and pictures.
I have maybe one or two books saved from being small. But some I have bought back again. As I was small in the late 1960s a lot of the books were published then. But some crept in from before, reprinted. Orlando’s Evening Out of 1941 was one. Oh that gorgeous ginger cat. And then there was Tintin mania, that which I have written about elsewhere.
Rosie’s Walk by Pat Hutchins was one of my childhood favourites. Beautiful ink illustrations of scenery and a fox and a hen called Rosie, all drawn slightly scandi in style. A lusciously tasteful sage colour palette. Not much text. It was her first book and although I haven’t read them, she wrote and illustrated many more books. Hutchins had a Yorkshire childhood – during which she was ‘encouraged by an elderly couple who would give her a chocolate bar for each picture she drew’ – then travelled via Leeds College of Art to Bodley Head publishers in 1968.
In the late 1960s and 1970s the children’s arm of Bodley Head were on a roll. Children’s editor Judy Taylor was responsible for printing up my childhood. From Sendak’s Where The Wild Things Are to the ever-hopeful fox out to catch Rosie. It may be a case of rose-coloured glasses here, I give you that, but these still look like corking children’s books.
The original Rosie’s Walk book has been squashed (and cropped) down into a Mini Treasures book. And odd things have been done to some of the typography. It’s a nice trick for finding new audiences. But it’s not the treasure that the original book was, with its unadulterated paperback cover, generous size and super clean layout. Letting the illustrations shine out over everything.
NB He didn’t catch Rosie, of course he didn’t.
a nice surprise to see Rosie’s Walk. Unsurprisingly, being of a certain age, it was one of my favourites too. My mum’s still got my copy, now wholly appropriated as hers.
I love this book. I read a little about when I was researching children’s reading habits. Not only is it wonderful to look at, it’s also a wonderful thing to read as a child. Because the text gives so much less information than the illustration, the book introduces dramatic irony, allowing the reader to know more than the narrator. For lots of children it’s the first book that they can read with that sense of authority, as they notice more is happening than the few words convey. And the pictures are so lovely.
What an interesting comment, never thought of the tension less words / more picture might encourage.
About the text, here’s a note by the editor, the great Susan Hirschmann:
“When I first saw the manuscript of Rosie’s Walk, it said ‘Rosie the hen went for a walk’ and it went on and on and on… and I said ‘Well, I like the first line’.
Pat went home and a few days later came back with Rosie’s Walk the way it is now.”
What a great story. About a great story..