3 ways to draw like Quentin Blake (and to live a good life)

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Whether you’re teaching kids to draw, drawing for them, or for yourself, learning to draw like Quentin Blake is enjoyable, rewarding, and won’t cost you 10,000 hours.

 

 

I’m no illustrator by a long stretch.

I am however, a primary school teacher and therefore blow children’s minds on a regular basis by drawing things like stick men and apples with reasonable success.

Even with the over-inflated sense of drawing ability this gives me, I am often reminded of my limits any time I try something ambitious or realistic. It usually results in some obscure, offensive, only slightly resemblant portrait (something like those unnerving versions of Mickey Mouse you see on the sides of ice cream vans).
Now I, like most people confronted with modern art, have made the clichéd point that I could create the same result with a bucket of paint, a length of rope, and a lively cat, but the truth is that most of the time, the artists are fully able to do the impressive realism stuff, but choose not to.
Picasso for example, doesn’t generally appear as though he understands the layout of the human face but occasionally drops in a painting to remind us that he can…

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So the point is, you can’t expect to be able to make great simple art without having the depth of knowledge, commitment and skill behind it.
With that said, here’s how to create great simple art without depth of knowledge, commitment, or skill…

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In a world with more books, films, blogs, songs, games, and cat videos, than you could ever hope to experience, it is important to be selective.
All the worthwhile things you enjoy are improved by all wasteful things you avoid.
The memory of Lion King 1 is improved for never having watched Lion King 2.
The things I own are worth more for the fewer possessions I have.
And for Quentin Blake – each line he draws is all the more effective for the one’s he doesn’t.

Practically, this means going minimal with facial features.
Here are some that Quentin Blake seems to go with:

Eyes

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Dot eyes are Quentin Blake’s go-to, but eggs are expressive.

Noses

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Mouths

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Nose and mouth names also seem to make good insults if the need arises…

 

Now pick some features, then put them together.

like this:

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Also – other features like ears, eyebrows, and parts of facial outline are often unnecessary. Try to skip some out.

 

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Is this good life advice? debatably not, but you’re not really here for that.
Quentin Blake’s style is known and defined by its scrappiness, yet at the same time manages to contain feeling, humour, and information.
Drawing in a rushed way will help you get closer to Blake’s style and has the added benefit of allowing you loads of attempts without investing a lot of time in each one.

Quentin Blake has explained himself that he starts with the expression of a person, and keeps starting over until he gets this first part right.

Basically, once you have eyes, nose, and mouth/beard that you like, then you can move on to scribbling out the rest of the body…

The key here is to not labour over any sketch.

There’s always a point in drawing where it will only gets worse the more you add, that point comes pretty quick with this style.

 

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In drawing as in life, a multitude of iniquities can be covered by the presence of facial hair.
If your drawing doesn’t turn out quite right then just add on a beard…

Here’s an example:

Underwhelming sketch of woman + Mr Twit beard = generic member of ‘The Eagles’/Eurovision performer.

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Here are some facial hair options. Be scrappy. Go sparse or full, doesn’t really matter (in your drawing that is – don’t grow a patchy beard and go blaming me).

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Use the bank of features that Quentin Blake uses.

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Start with the facial expression

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Be scrappy (a messy fountain pen helps a little)

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Miss out features, you don’t need them all

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Don’t join everything up

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If you mess up, draw a big beard on it, start again.

 

Now leave a comment with your attempts you wonky witch lip sausage nose old chunky.

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Gobblefunk, scat, and the point of gibberish

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squitsch, gruncious, bandersnatch, trogglehumper, sneedle, brillig, gimble, once-ler, oobleck, vorpal, outgrabe, spazzim, glikker, zillow, manxome, hopscotchy, thnaders, bar-ba-loots, gyre,
and floob-boober-bab-boober-bubs.

So I’m fairly sure that I am above average in the amount of gibberish I speak.
I listen to a lot of scat music, to bands that slur their words, and increasingly just feel the compulsion to swap out real expressions for meaningless sounds.
Maybe being a teacher, and an english literature graduate, this is a backlash against all the demands in my life to be making a lot of sense to others.

That said, I’m not the one responsible for the list of nonsense above. That’s down to our friends Roald Dahl, Dr Seuss, and Lewis Caroll.
Unlike myself, these guys don’t save the craziness for their home life but actually publish these words in their stories, and stories which are aimed at children in the process of soaking up all the language that comes their way.

The BFG, Through the Looking Glass, and the Lorax are just three of the books that have been incredibly successful and also contain loads of gibberish.
There’s a divide between parents who enjoy the nonsense in these books, and those who find it grating.
But is there any actual value in it except for the opportunity to make funny sounds?

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In Lewis Caroll’s Through the Looking Glass, Alice reads a nonsense poem: The Jabberwocky.
After reading it, this is what she says:

                It seems very pretty…but it’s rather hard to understand.

Child reads a poem – poem has mostly made-up words – child doesn’t get the poem.

The Jabberwocky isn’t a very long poem but it still manages to include about 25 words that don’t especially mean anything, so it’s not so surprising that Alice doesn’t completely understand.
Stephen King (and lots of other people) have described words as the tools we use to order and navigate life. Objectively, this means that Lewis Caroll just gave us 25 useless tools (a bit like the garlic crusher, or the t-shirt folder), since there’s no real situation where we can use them to any benefit.
The danger here is that in reading these nonsense words, we are missing opportunities to introduce or solidify real usable words.
Real vocabulary is important, and many parents will feel like answering questions like ‘what’s a YUZZ-a-MA-TUZZ?’, isn’t the best use of time with their child.

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Alice goes on to say:

 Somehow it seems to fill my head with ideas – only I don’t exactly know what they are!   However, somebody killed something, at any rate

While Alice doesn’t completely get the poem, she uses her sense of meaning and structure of language to figure out that ‘somebody killed something’. This reveals what seems to be the main value in gibberish. Inference.
Encouraging inference usually requires asking children questions like ‘how do you know that…?’, ‘why do you think she feels that…?’.
Instead, when a word doesn’t make sense, a child is naturally forced to look at the context of the word in the sentence.

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Great! So children get loads of thinking skills through inference of nonsense words, and on top of this the people of ‘The Journal of Experimental Child Psychology’ say that inference links strongly to memory capacity too!

But… the smart people at the JECP also remind us that the ability for children to infer is also limited by the extent of their vocabulary.
Meaning that you’re not allowed to only read a child nonsense or they wont have any vocabulary to infer with.

You can see this played out whilst reading Roald Dahl. His so-called ‘Gobblefunk‘ words are combinations of two or three existing words. So if you’ve never heard ‘rotten’ or ‘gruesome’, you probably won’t get ‘rotsome’.

For the best effect of the nonsense then you should probably employ the vocabulary inference sandwich…

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So that’s the value in nonsense apart from just making funny sounds.
But also, we shouldn’t forget about the other great thing about gibberish…making funny sounds.

Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, and Leonard Cohen can teach us that words can carry a lot of value and meaning.

Intentionally – through the great scat singers (‘shoo bap wee do bee do whap pow’) and unintentionally through the lyrics of general chart music (‘I can’t feel my face when I’m with you’ – yeesh), I’ve been taught that words don’t have to have any meaning at all to be enjoyed.

Appreciating the aesthetic of sound shouldn’t be underrated.
Take jazz artists Wynton Marsalis‘ Squeek, Rumble, Whomp, Whomp, Whomp.
This children’s book classifies itself as a sonic adventure.
Marsalis, as a renowned jazz trumpet player, chooses to walk us through the instruments of jazz, linking them to the array of sounds we experience in every day life.
In regards to age suitability, the book could span the primary school years quite easily. It offers a lot; from Paul Rogers’ vibrant illustration, to fun sounds evoked in the text, to understanding the combination of sounds found in the jazz genre and a wider appreciation of what we consider as music.
For anyone, a book like this, singing along to scat, or gibberish in general is a good practice in shedding inhibition. Maybe we could all do with giving a bit more time to the sound and aesthetic of words.

Some good advice that Mrs Phelps gives Matilda after she’s been reading some Hemingway:

‘Don’t worry about the bits you can’t understand. Sit back and allow the words to wash around you, like music.’

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Read
Wynton MarselisSqueak, Rumble, Whomp, Whomp, Whomp

Gregory Christie – When Louis Armstrong taught me to scat

Roald Dahl  – BFG (of course)

Dr Seuss – The Lorax

Lewis Caroll – Through the Looking Glass (The Jaberwocky)

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Listen to –

Slim Gaillard – Yip Roc Heresy

Ella Fitzgerald –  One note samba scat

Written by Joshua Morgan

10 of the best children’s book quotes in history, maybe

So that statement might not be true but I’ve succeeded in avoiding the temptation to put 10 Dr Seuss quotes up.

As worthwhile as life affirming sound-bites can be, children’s literature has often ventured a little further and heavier in its observations.

This list probably works best alongside something lighter and more forgiving to humanity.

 

 

In the beginning was the word

and the word is ours;

the names of places,

the names of flowers,

the names of names.

Words are Ours, Michael Rosen

 

 

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Well, maybe it started that way. As a dream, but doesn’t everything. Those buildings. These lights. This whole city. Somebody had to dream about it first. And maybe that is what I did. I dreamed about coming here, but then I did it.

James and the Giant Peach, Roald Dahl

 

 

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‘Another Sandwich!’ said the King.

‘There’s nothing but hay left now,’ the messenger said, peeping into the bag.

‘Hay, then,’ the king murmured in a faint whisper.

Alice was glad to see that it revived him a good deal. ‘There’s nothing like eating hay when you’re faint,’ he remarked to her, as he munched away.

‘I should think throwing cold water over you would be better,’ Alice suggested: ‘or some sal-volatile.’

‘I didn’t say there was nothing better,’ the King replied. I said there was nothing like it.’ Which Alice did not venture to deny.

Alice in Wonder Land, Lewis Carroll

 

 

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Length of days with an evil heart is only length of misery and already she begins to know it. All get what they want; they do not always like it.”

The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S.Lewis

 

 

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I have lived a great deal among grown-ups. I have seen them intimately, close at hand. And that hasn’t much improved my opinion of them.

The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery

 

 

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As much money and life as you could want! The two things most human beings would choose above all – the trouble is, humans do have a knack of choosing precisely those things that are worst for them.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, J.K.Rowling

 

 

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The reason the beasts give among themselves is that Man is the weakest and most defenseless of all living things, and it is unsportsmanlike to touch him.

The Jungle Book, Rudyard Kipling

 

 

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Fate is like a strange, unpopular resteraunt filled with off little waiters who bring you things you never asked for and don’t always like.

The Slippery Slope, Lemony Snicket

 

 

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“If you’re all so peaceful up there, how did you get such greedy and cruel ideas?”

The dragon was silent for a long time after this question. And at last he said: “It just came over me. I don’t know why. It just came over me, listening to the battling shouts and war-cries of the earth – I got excited, I want to join in.”

The Iron Man, Ted Hughes

 

 

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I suppose it’s like the ticking crocodile, isn’t it? Time chasing after all of us.

Peter Pan, J.M.Barrie

 

 

 

 

 

Tiger Bay Books is dedicated to looking closely at what makes children’s literature great and using this in the books we create.

 

 

 

 

The Dark

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Written by
Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler)
Author of the Series of Unfortunate Events books, each including some funny yet dark dedications, like this one;

For Beatrice
No one could extinguish my love,
Or your house.

Also, when asked to describe his personal philosophy replied ‘Never refuse a breath mint’.

Illustrated by
Jon Klassen
Illustrator, animator, writer, Candian, man. Most known for his award winning ‘This is not my hat’ (which is better than it sounds). He also digs Cormac McCarthy, which is always a strong sign in my book.

Summary
Laszlo is afraid of the dark. The dark lives in the basement. He thinks that if he visits the dark in the dark’s room then it won’t visit him in his. This doesn’t exactly happen but Lazlo nonetheless reaches resolve and understanding of the dark, so that living with it isn’t so bad.

What makes it shelf-worthy?

Without specific examples, I feel like I’ve seen several bad attempts at ‘fear of the dark’ remedies. Sometimes it’s a banished monster in the closet, sometimes a depiction of darkness as something completely trivial. Either way, it turns out as something unrelatable or proof that there was a monster in your room after all, and who’s to say it’s not coming back? Children aside, these books always have a grate of cliché which I just can’t hack.

The Dark is different from these. While it makes The Dark into a person, it otherwise refers to it in literal terms; as ‘at night…it spread itself against the windows and doors of Laszlo’s house’.
Instead of giving a story where darkness is something to be defeated, it concedes that darkness is a part of life and is ‘always close by’. Snicket doesn’t attempt to get rid of the darkness (because that’s impossible), but changes its character to something friendly, even reassuring. The Dark even goes on to explain that many things that we project fear onto are actually common and functional; without a wardrobe there’s nowhere to keep your clothes, without his creaky roof Laszlo would get rained on, without a shower curtain the floor gets wet.

As you might expect, the Jon Klassen makes the most of contrast between light and dark in his illustration. He uses the bursts of orange light from torch, or window, or lamp to frame the objects and text of the book.

Again, matte finish pages with beautifully composed and coloured images make for an excellent object to own. As well as this, the words serve as a great ‘fear of the dark’ remedy and could resonate with some bigger fears than darkness if you found yourself with the time and a philosophical enough frame of mind.

The voice of the dark was as creaky as the roof of the house, and as smooth and cold as the windows, and even though the dark was right next to Laszlo, the voice seemed very far away’

The Tiger Who Would Be King

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Written by
James Thurber
Cartoonist and humorist who also wrote ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ and was quoted to have said ‘well, if I called the wrong number, why did you answer the phone?’.

Illustrated by
Joohee Yoon
Printer and illustrator from Massachusetts who provides visuals for The New York Times and Washington Post.
(not to be confused with Joo Ji Hoon the star of the middling South Korean movie ‘the Naked Kitchen’).

Summary
A parable towards the pointlessness of war. Tiger and Lion both look to claim their role as King of the jungle. Animals take sides and fight it out. The war leaves a victor and a blunt moral: ‘you can’t very well be the king of the beasts if there aren’t any’.

What makes it shelf-worthy?

The Tiger Who Would Be King uses selective, declarative statements to guide young readers through its simple narrative yet consistently resonates with big ideas and issues of real importance. This book provides a starting point for thinking about the morality of war, and questioning if the ends justify the violent means.

It’s refreshing to read a children’s book that uses allegory without getting itself tangled. You can read the story at its most basic form; about a Tiger and a Lion,or as a simple message on violence (ie – it’s usually not worth it), or as a Nietzsche-esque discussion on constructive/destructive rebellion.

Joohee Yoon’s illustration also is beautiful. The story itself has been around since 1927, but Yoon’s photolithography graphics have lifted it to another level, and thus it finds itself here in our collection of greats. Yoon’s style combines a classic feel with punchy modern graphic which works well alongside the simple yet powerful message. Saying that, even without the words the vibrant tri-coloured art and thick matte pages are enough to entice you into spending a while gazing and stroking your way through the book. Because of this fact, The Tiger Who Would Be King is good for any age, and if you feel like skipping a bit of gravity and dark depth* until they’re a little older then I’m sure Thurber will forgive you.

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Or will he?…

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* Actually, Thurber originally thought that it wouldn’t be published on the grounds of it being too ‘savage’ for children.

 

The Tiger Who Would Be King was published by Enchanted Lion

Do Children Understand the Meaning Behind ‘The Little Prince’?

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In fact, it would almost be impossible for a children’s book to have been in print continuously since 1943 and translated into over 250 languages — like The Little Prince has — without it being loved by both young and old for generations.

That’s a pretty easy point to agree on.

However, something a little harder to agree on is why both young and old love The Little Prince, as the reasons are seemingly very different.

As adults we’re of course drawn to the nostalgia of a children’s book. To us the world is mundane and predictable so we love the refreshing feeling of what it was like to see the world as a child, like the Little Prince does.

However, perhaps unlike the Little Prince himself and possibly unlike our younger counterparts too, we’re tempted to look a little deeper into it all. We like the story because, to us, it has meaning at every turn.

We enjoy the allegory and rich symbolism simmering constantly beneath the surface of everything and everyone our little hero encounters.

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Despite ‘The Little Prince’ being a children’s book, literary criticism refers to it as a paper on human nature.

We read about the rose and see our own mother. We hear about the sheep without a muzzle and we see a metaphor for trouble and pain in our life. We meet the drunkard, the king, and the geographer and see clearly in their actions the charades of our world. We read about the fox and to us he quite literally is friendship and all that is meaningful in life.

But that is us reading the story. That is us reading it with years of experience and insight at our disposal. When we see the fox we see a clear metaphor for friendship, but surely to a child the fox is, well… just a fox.

And that’s completely true.

Children simply just won’t get the depths of The Little Prince. They won’t get that counting the stars is like counting money. They won’t get why a man would drink to forget his shame. They won’t get how baobabs on a tiny planet could be the same as evil in your heart.

The Little Prince is packed with all sorts of symbols and nuances that aren’t even always obvious to us adults (ok, well they weren’t obvious to me). Of course a child doesn’t understand it all! But does that even matter? I think you can probably guess the answer here…

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Judging the value of a children’s story by the accessibility of its symbols is missing the point.

We are completely forgetting that the amusement behind The Little Prince is that the Little Prince himself doesn’t understand those around him. He doesn’t know what a king is or geographer or a conceited man or a lamplighter; he doesn’t understand why the narrator’s plane must be fixed or even why snakes are dangerous.

It is a story of a boy for whom everything is new and unknown. He doesn’t understand and he’s not worried that he doesn’t.

He asks a great deal of questions about these things, but ultimately he cares most about returning to his home planet, to his rose. It is this simple objective that is so important, and it is precisely the importance of this objective that the other characters in the story fail to grasp.

This is the heart of the book: while children may fail to understand many important things, their innocent nature means that the things they do love and understand are actually closer to the heart of what is truly meaningful in life than what adult’s value.

The other characters in the story value money and power, personal survival and the advancement of knowledge. The Little Prince values those close to him and his home.

Despite everything he doesn’t know, the Little Prince does know more than the other characters about what is most important.

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Antoine De Saint-Exupery was a writer, poet, journalist, aristocrat, pioneering aviator, and appeared on the 50 Franc note.

Adults may love The Little Prince for its nuance and insight, but children probably love it for a much more simple reason: it’s a great story. Just because adults may grasp more of the meaning that doesn’t mean they enjoy it any more.

Enjoyment is not exclusive to those with the greatest understanding.

If a child hears the story and all that they understand is that it is about a boy from a tiny planet trying to find his way home — if they find it entertaining and enjoyable, then that alone proves the book’s worth.

Just like the other characters in the story who forget what is important in life, we have forgotten that the real purpose of a children’s story is simple enjoyment, not how profound it is.

That young and old for generations have loved The Little Prince for different reasons is of no consequence. The Little Prince is a brilliant story with equal value for young and old. The adults reading it could do as well to remember the simple pleasure of a good story as children could from trying to grasp the deeper meaning behind it.

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Written by Michael Kineman

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Tiger Bay Books is a group based in Cardiff (Wales) looking to find, read, and ultimately create great children’s literature.

Through the blog we get to think about and share the things that we believe make a worth while children’s book.

Jolabokaflod – The Christmas Book Flood

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ad ganga med bok I maganum’ – everyone gives birth to a book.

Icelandic book culture is impressive.
Public bench barcodes embedded with stories, book-talk as common with plumbers as academics, the most book buying people in the world, and a staggering 1 in 10 Icelanders writing (or birthing) a book at some point in their life.

Not least in the reasons for such a thriving book scene is the Jolabokaflod: The Christmas Book Flood. This describes the yearly boom in book sales between October and November in preparation for the Icelandic tradition of Christmas Eve book giving, followed by an evening of fireside reading for young and old alike.

Economically, the origins of Jolabokaflod are found in the low tax on paper imports of 1944 following World War 2. This presented books as the viable go-to widespread Christmas gift for all Icelanders. The trend was encouraged by the Bokatidindi, the free catalogue of new publications delivered to every home in September.

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The Bokatidindi – delivered free every year to each Icelandic household.

 

Whether it was economically or culturally driven, channeling some of the intensely overflowing excitement of Children on Christmas Eve into sitting down to read a new book is a stroke of genius and will do more good than shoving 1000 bad football stories down young boys throats.

The Icelandic literary DNA goes deeper still.
Storytelling runs strongly through Iceland’s history in the form of the poetic Eddas and medieval sagas. Some also put down their creative thought and inventiveness to inhabiting Iceland for 1,000 years prior to the presence of electricity or the invention of the combustion engine. They suggest that surviving this harsh environment for such a period of time demands imagination: ‘if you stand still, you die’.

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Iceland is number six for highest GDP per capita in the world, has the highest male life expectancy, they have no armed forces (since they were banned 700 years ago), households are supplied directly from underground volcanic water (comprising 85% of energy used), they elected the world’s first female president, pure air, excellent state education which is used by 99% of children, the combination of the Nordic welfare system with the American entrepreneurial spirit (low taxes and big public service investment), is considered by the Human Development Index Rankings as the happiest nation in the world, and … Bjork.

Actually, this isn’t all down to reading more, and a lot of these may be the causes of such a healthy reading culture. That said, the virtues of Iceland are interlinked and reading is an important ingredient in what makes it such a praiseworthy place.

There’s plenty more to say, but it’s almost Christmas and I need to leave you time to order a copy and read the Icelandic tale of Flumbra: the dim witted giantess who falls in love.

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Christmas suggestions

  • Cardiff has about the same population as Iceland. Anyone for starting Jolabokaflod Cymru? Give and read books on Christmas Eve)
  • Include Jolabokaflod in list of potential baby names.
  • Develop micro-Iclandic book culture in your house.

 

 

Written by Joshua Morgan

What did Roald Dahl learn from Hemingway?

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Apart from clearly doing some character research for The Twits, it’s not clear how Roald Dahl and Ernest Hemingway came to be together here in London, 1944.

Here, Roald is 28 and Hemingway an aged, Karl Marxian 45. Dahl had only published one children’s book called The Gremlins to mixed success in the US while Hemingway had already got The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, and For Whom the Bell Tolls under his literary belt.

We can assume that Dahl sought Hemingway out while serving his post as a spy in Washington DC for the British government.
Spy is actually a generous term for what Roald was doing during WW2. His job was to attend the parties, balls, luncheons, breakfasts, hunts, and banquets of the American upper classes whilst trying to gauge when USA might be lending us a hand against NAZI Germany. He ate, wrote, gambled, and played the ‘tall and British’ card with rich American women.
Less of a Daniel Craig James Bond and more like a Bond written by Woody Allen, played by Hugh Grant.

In any case, they met, talked, boxed, and became good enough friends for Dahl to be called upon to help and distract Hemingway out of his alcoholism by Hemingway’s wife, Martha Gelhorn.

So what impact did the terse, American, at no point humorous, Hemingway have on our beloved British creator of the Roly-Poly Bird?

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Hemingway’s writing style is probably best know for its simplicity. He famously told people to ‘distrust adjectives’ like you should ‘distrust certain people’. While he wrote this down at some point, before doing so he had shared this with Dahl, who took it to heart in his own writing.

It’s a hard thing to put your finger on what makes Roald Dahl quite so good, and while it’s tempting to put it down to the crazy characters and ideas, a big part of it is not wasting words on unnecessary adjectives.

I don’t know who planted the lie into the world that adjectives make writing interesting, but they should be found and hung by a long, thick, rough, old, yellow, smelly, chafing rope.

Nouns are interesting. Things. Too many descriptive words are what makes writing sound fabricated and kind of teenage. Once you have described the basics of how something looks, you should leave it alone.

It’s like if Da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa, then felt the need to call it The beautiful, intriguing, ambiguous, piercing, inspiring look of Mona Lisa.
It’s unnecessary. Just let the image do the work itself.

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Unlike Hemingway, Dahl doesn’t limit himself to the adjective list of good, bad, clear, big, brown, and brave, but reading his adult and children’s books alike, there’s a similar sense of not wasting words.

Just in case your not convinced, here’s some other people who aren’t huge adjective fans:

When you catch an adjective, kill it – Mark Twain

The road to hell is paved with adjectives – Stephen King

Most adjectives are unnecessary – William Zissner

Adjectives are the greatest enemy of substance – Voltaire

Struggle against vagueness, against obscurity, against the lure of the decorative adjective– George Orwell

Use no superfluous word, no adjective, which does not reveal something – Ezra Pound

Ouch.

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For both Hem and Roald, the tendency towards uncluttered writing goes hand in hand with a more general appreciation of simple pleasures: namely food.

I wrote my uni dissertation on Hemingway and food. While this was mainly an excuse to read lots of his books and to fantasise about eating gazpacho, I at least discovered that he really did like food and gave time in his books and his life to enjoying it.

He even wrote a couple of cooking articles including a critique on bad camping food and how to do a fine bacon wrapped trout with corn cakes.

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Hemingway could indulge his love for food whilst alone; camping, fishing, or sitting in a well-lit Spanish cafe. Instead, Roald Dahl’s food culture is based on sharing and family  (it’s hard to imagine a grown man preparing an ‘enormous crocodile spinach baguette‘ alone on the morning of a hunt).

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Sure, there’s some cross-over with these men; big into short stories, into travel, both survived African plane crashes, but actually Dahl’s similarities with Hemingway are only as important as the differences.

Dahl, being British, was not so serious, not such an idealist, and could see the comedy in our flaws. Even having such an esteemed bearded friend in Hemingway, he still ended up writing this:

Mr Twit felt that his hairiness made him look terrifically wise and grand, but in truth he was neither of these things. Mr Twit was a twit. He was born a twit. And now at the age of sixty, he was a bigger twit than ever.           Roald Dahl, The Twits

Dahl’s humour, his sense of eccentricity, and family.

Hemingway’s clarity, passion, and simplicity.

Both writers offer to enrich life in different ways. And for me, each is improved by having read the other.

Before reading To Have and Have Not, why not read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Before reading Fiesta, read Dirty Beasts.

What children read, have read to them, or never have a chance to read shapes the experience and expectations of life thereafter. So pick well.

Read –

Roald Dahl – The Twits

Ernest Hemingway – In Another Country (short story)

Roald Dahl – Kiss Kiss

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Cook –

enormous crocodile baguette (Roald Dahl’s Revolting Recipes)

bacon wrapped trout with corn cakes

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Enter –

Hemingway lookalike competition.

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The childhood book that formed you most.

Article written by Joshua Morgan