Friday, 29 May 2015

Edmund C H Mardell and Bobby Bear

Have I ever told you how much I love my job? It does have the odd downside, like struggling to find new and interesting things to sell. Then again, that can be looked at as an upside as it means I get to spend many happy hours searching for those elusive treasures. However, the very best part of my job is the happiness it gives to others which in turn brings joy to me. Just last week I received this letter from a lovely lady called Judy. 

Dear Barbara,

I just wanted to let you know that I received the wonderful book "Bobby Bear Annual'. Thank you so much for that.

I just thought I would let you know a little story about one of the contributors in it. One of the stories is called 'Scissors and Spells' written by Edmund C H Mardell. He was the older brother of a very good friend of mine here in Australia. I have done some research on him, and that’s how I found your book.

‘Kitty’ (Kathleen) came over here in the early 60's (I think....) and 'Eddie' died shortly after that. She has never returned to England, and only had one photo of Eddie. She knew he had written a few stories and poems before, but had no idea of this story. You should have seen her face when she realized what she was holding! She now can hold  just a little bit more of her wonderful brother’s legacy.

So thank you so much for having this book, selling it to me, and sending it with such obvious care. You have made quite a few folks VERY happy. Thank you.

Kind Regards,


By the way, here is the photo of Edmund C H Mardell. Lovely, hey?

I was smiling from ear to ear when I read Judy’s message and replied with this;

Hello Judy,

Thank you so much for your email.  I love hearing stories like this.  Eddie was certainly very handsome and how young he looks in that photo.  

Would you mind if I included your email on the feedback page of my website and maybe on my blog?  Either way I'm very grateful to hear from you and thrilled I could play even a small part in the story.

Please pass on my best regards to your friend.

Best wishes, Barbara

This was Judy's response;

Hi Barbara,

You know, I think it would be wonderful to share the story and the photo. Kitty mentioned that Eddie had a daughter but they have lost touch over the years. It’s my opinion that people love to hear a wonderful story, and they would love to see your blog and feedback about the wonderful Eddie and his little sister Kitty. (She’s in her early 80’s now!) I will read her your letter, and when you get it all posted, I’ll print it out for her to have. She will love it.

Thank you for your kindness. Good luck to you!


There really are some wonderful people in the world, and I seem to be lucky enough to meet lots of them. Now I just hope someone remembers Eddie and Kitty and gets in touch. It would be amazing to reunite Kitty with her long-lost relatives.  

Friday, 22 May 2015

This is London

The Royal Horticultural Society's annual flower show held at the Royal Hospital Chelsea is almost over for another year. We didn't go this time, but we enjoyed the coverage on TV. Yesterday one of the presenters remarked on the huge numbers of visitors despite the inclement weather.  I had to smile because earlier in the day I was leafing through "This is London" by M. Sasek and come across this picture; 

This is London

But don't worry, most of the time it looks like this; 

The Tower of London

St. Paul's Cathedral 

The Houses of Parliament

The book features many other famous buildings, but my favourite illustrations are of the people - like this one of The Guards.

or this group of school children

City Gents

A Chelsea Pensioner

I also like the glimpses of 'old London'

like this famous shop ~

and these Elizabethan houses in High Holborn

Covent Garden Market

The New York Times Book Review, October 18, 1959, perfectly sums up this quirky book.

There are not many words in Miroslav Sasek's This is London, but those few are most memorable...

The colour is magnificent and uninhibited, the draughtsmanship brilliant but unobtrusive (one gradually realizes that these bold, stylized drawings are minutely accurate as well as true in general impression). The humour is characteristic and pervasive but always subordinate. The jokes are all pointed. Miroslav Sasek has drawn the visitor's London from foggy arrival to rainy departure. His book is a series of impressions, unrelated, one would think, but they add up to a remarkably complete picture of the modern city. The words and pictures are closely integrated; each has it terse style and humour.

M. Sasek ~ Universe Publishing ~ Originally Published in 1959 ~ New Updated Version 2004 

This is London is now sold, thank you for your interest.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Guest post; Nut and Bolt / Bout en Moertje by Nicole de Cock

I was born in Zandvoort, in the Netherlands, at the seaside and from an early age I loved making things. I adored my grandfather who painted a lot and who loved animals, two things which, up until now, are very important in my life. My grandfather invented an oil machine but he also had to raise a family of 5 girls, among them my mother, during the war so he didn't always have the time to paint but there was always a place in his house where he had several projects going on - ceramics, painting, sculpture, etc.. I really learned drawing from him !

I could spend hours on my own, painting and reading. During high school I began working in a bookshop and it was during that period I started making small stories. When things changed dramatically at the bookshop because of the crises in the 90's, I left the shop and tried to turn drawing into making serious illustration-work. The first years I made illustrations for a wildlife magazine and for biology books for children and for years now I am making picture books, although I still love making other thing - miniature books, clocks....

In my books animals and nature are very important. I am very concerned about the earth and I hope that by reading and looking at my drawings children might care a tiny bit more about our planet.

I 'met' Barbara years ago when I was looking for a book (I think it was a ladybird book) and found her wonderful shop on the internet. We became close friends although we never actually met. She has an excellent taste as you all know ! (you mustn't leave this out, dear friend) We both care about nature and we both lost our dogs in the same year which, if you love dogs with all your heart as we do, is quite something to share. We still 'talk' about her Rosie and my Shy. That was 6 years ago and since then I luckily have another wonderful dog, Roet, which means soot !

In my book Bout en Moertje, which is now translated in English, Nut and Bolt, it is all about friendship between a donkey and a mouse - maybe I was inspired ?

and our new animation ! Bout is bang / Bolt is afraid

Lots of love, Nicole

Nicole and Shy

Thank you so much Nicole, I'm very grateful for your friendship. I really enjoyed all the photographs and reading more about your life. Your baby picture is adorable!

If you are interested in purchasing Nut and Bolt or other books by Nicole, you will find them at Amazon

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

I can't go back to yesterday... Alice in Wonderland

It’s hard to believe, but my blog will be four years old on the 6th May 2015. My first tentative post back in 2011 was a short piece about Marjorie Torry and her illustrations for Alice in Wonderland (here). The featured book sold and although I’ve searched high and low, I’ve never found another copy – until now - how fortuitous that one should turn up just in time for my blogiversary. Enjoy!

The Alice book featured here is now sold, thank you for your interest.

All the featured images are from Alice in Wonderland, published by Purnell, London in 1964.  

I can't go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.”  - Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland.

When I wrote that very first blog post back in 2011  I was convinced it would remain unread forever – I was wrong! Thank you to every single person who takes the time to call in, your visits mean the world.

Lewis Carroll wrote Alice in Wonderland in 1865, so this year marks the 150th anniversary. Now that makes 4 years seem like a very short time indeed!

Alice: "How long is forever?" White Rabbit: "Sometimes, just one second.”
- Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland.

The Alice book featured here is now sold, thank you for your interest.
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