Showing posts with label Emma Chichester Clark. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Emma Chichester Clark. Show all posts

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Flat-hunting in Paris

My daughter and my husband are in Paris this weekend. Their mission? To find a flatshare for her year at university there. Luckily they struck gold on the first day so they’ve spent the rest of the weekend with our dear Parisian friend Anne Marie. They've visited the Louvre, wandered along the Boulevard St Germain and watched the Bastille Day parades (complete with military jets trailing patriotic streaks of red, white and blue across the sky).

I am so envious - and plan to visit my daughter lots in the coming months. Paris, I reckon, is one of the most civilised cities on earth. Everyone looks stylish – even the pigeons seem sleeker and less down-at-heel than their ragged UK cousins.

I remember sitting with my daughter in a café at the Palais Royal (above) a couple of years ago. An elegant orchestra played Vivaldi in the square, elderly ladies walked tiny dogs on long leads ("rats on strings,” said my husband) and roller bladers whizzed past at death-defying speed. Thanks to the dire exchange rate, the prices were eye-wateringly high – eleven euros for a lunchtime baguette and a glass of bourgogne blanc. But considering we sat there for hours, enjoying the music and soaking up the atmosphere, we probably got our money’s worth. Even better, all the museums and galleries we visited let under-26s go free, so sightseeing didn’t cost us an arm and a leg. Just an arm.

Other highlights were dinner at La Coupole, the famous brasserie where Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir were regulars, and a visit to an amazing emporium called Merci.

Launched by the founders of chic children’s fashion store Bonpoint, Merci is utterly gorgeous. Housed in an old factory in the fashionable Marais district, it sells furniture, flowers, clothes (new and vintage), pictures and Annick Goutal perfume. All the profits go to a children’s charity in Madagascar and there’s even a used-book cafe where you can sit in an old leather armchair, sip an espresso and peruse the books. My son called it a “do I really need it” sort of shop - and, devoted dad though he is, I can guarantee that my husband definitely won’t have set foot in the place this weekend.

PS. I adore Emma Chichester Clark’s illustrations and if you’re a fan too, take a look at her new blog. Plumdog Blog relates the adventures of a sweet little dog called Plum, with pictures and words by Emma. It’s adorable.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Friday book review - The Pied Piper of Hamelin by Michael Morpurgo and Emma Chichester Clark

I’ve been a fan of artist Emma Chichester Clark for more years than I can remember. When we moved house this year (aaagh - I’m still recovering) I took stacks of children’s books to a local primary school but I couldn’t bear to part with my Chichester Clark collection. I bought some of them (below) before my daughter was born – I Never Saw a Purple Cow and Listen to This for starters – and the illustrations still look as vibrant and fresh as they did 20 years ago.

Chichester Clark, who was taught by Quentin Blake in her art student days, has written and illustrated scores of children’s books. In recent years she’s also worked with former children’s laureate Michael Morpurgo and they make a formidable team. The duo’s latest collaboration is a retelling of Robert Browning’s classic poem, The Pied Piper of Hamelin, and in the aftermath of this summer’s riots, it’s a parable for our times. As Morpurgo himself has said: “We are failing our young people, who feel they are living without hope, without jobs and a sense of a future.”

The story is seen through the eyes of a young boy who describes how the rich and greedy live like kings and queens in the town of Hamelin, while the sick and poor have to scavenge for scraps of food. Mountains of rubbish rot in the streets, rats run riot and the town council promises action but never keeps its word. But all hope isn’t lost. When a tall thin man in extraordinary clothes suddenly appears in the council chamber and pledges to get rid of the rats, it looks as though life will take a turn for the better. But is it too late for the people to change their ways for good?

Morpurgo and Chichester Clark have done a wonderful job of bringing the pied piper to life on the page. Master storyteller Morpurgo describes him as “so light and nimble on his feet that it seemed as if he was walking on air” while Chichester Clark’s illustrations show a dashing figure in a stylish chequered jacket, multi-patterned trousers, dashing red sombrero and fingerless gloves.

Children of all ages will enjoy this ultimately uplifting story, which is perfect for reading aloud. And take time along the way to appreciate Chichester Clark’s gorgeous (and intricately detailed) illustrations.

PS. Speaking of Michael Morpurgo, Steven Spielberg’s highly-anticipated movie of War Horse is due out in January. I can’t wait to see it...

The Pied Piper of Hamelin by Michael Morpurgo and Emma Chichester Clark (Walker Books, £12.99)

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