" Children’s book special

NAME Janey Jones BORN Musselburgh STORY Princess Poppy

CHARACTERS Poppy, Honey, Saffron, Mrs Bumble

FIRST LINE ‘Poppy woke up early. “pree!" she shouted. “It’s my BIRTHDAY!“

Janey Jones can’t quite believe it either. She was working as a teacher in Edinburgh when she and her husband changed tack completely and opened up the Jelly Club, the massive, warehouse- style haven of soft play. It was a huge success and then dormant dreams of writing started to come true.

While juggling the Jelly and being mum to three small boys, Janey let a little girl, Poppy, grow onto the page from having played in her imagination for over 15 years. ‘The character was something to do with my love of nature and I thought, wouldn’t it be good to have something that’s a blend of traditional and modern that would be wholesome and pure but still be enough to satisfy that need for frills and fancies?’ Janey says. (Apparently the princess fantasy peaks at the age of five.) Poppy lives in a safe world filled with flowers and pretty things but this instinct for cosiness is governed by strong principals. The fact that the vision is now a successful book sold nationwide reflects an equally strong will. Janey wrote, illustrated, published and distributed Princess Poppy last November on her own. ‘I felt I had to get it into a book form before anyone made me change it. It’s very personal to me and I had such a strong idea of how it should be.’

It’s a sun-kissed landscape of childhood, existing only in fantasy and dream but is somewhere we still crave. Janey Jones taps into that with all the instinct, charm and precision of a pro.

I Janey Jones reads from Princess Poppy Sat 7 Feb. 1 1am—1 pm. Free. North Edinburgh Arts Centre. 15a Pennywell Court. 315 2151.

Author, illustrator, publisher: Janey Jones

PICTURE BOOK DAVID MCKEE The Conquerors (Andersen Press. £10.99) 00.00

NAME Paula Feggans

Between the covers of best local and UK literary talent. Words: Ruth Hedges

BORN Paisley

STORY Mr and Mrs Toiletbag (from The Alligator’s Stomach)

CHARACTERS Mr and Mrs Toiletbag, Snotnose, Bob, Bobetta, Bobby, Pollywantsacracker

FIRST LINE ‘Mr and Mrs Toiletbag lived in Bog Street and their house was horrible.’

Paula Feggans has just been published too. The Alligator’s Stomach is an anthology of writing by the Johnstone Junior Writers’ Group and features the wonderfully macabre story Mr and Mrs Toiletbag. Written by Paula when she was 12, the story jumps out at you with its black humour and Roald Dahl-like delight in the disgusting (think The Twits meets The BFG’s ‘Fleshumpeater’ and ‘Bonecruncher’). It’s afar cry from the world of Princess Poppy: ‘The little girl on the end of the street was called Pollywantsacracker and she was evil to her

Young talent: school girl and writer, Paula Feggans

parents. Mr and Mrs Toiletbag snatched her and her best friend, Snotnose.

Snotnose was made into Spaghetti Bolognese and Pollywantsacracker was made into Meatballs.’ Another of her stories, Evil Computer, reveals a dry wit: ‘l’m so sorry dear but you have a rare disease. I’m afraid to tell you that you have been diagnosed with Computerarollisfrollicrollispollisbogis. In other words you will be scared of computers for the rest of your life.’

Paula’s been going to the writing group for about two years now. ‘l’ve always

' liked writing stories but it’s good at the group because you’re not at school so

you don’t feel like you have to,’ she says. ‘I want to be an author when I grow up and write for teenagers.’ The group meets weekly and is given different prompts by Renfrewshire Libraries writer in residence Paul Houghton. At the book launch this month members will read their favourite pieces.

I The A/igator’s Stomach launch, Sat 7 Feb, 2pm. Free. Borders Books, Buchanan Street, Glasgow. 0147 222 7700.


Left, right. left. The march of the biggest country's army goes on. And on and on. In David McKee's brilliant new table the General and his people ‘believed that their way of life was the best' and, ‘From time to time the General would take his army and attack a nearby country. "It‘s for their own good,“ he said. “So they can be like us."'

Sound familiar? McKee thinly veils a critique of Imperialism (and more specifically modern America) within a charming and beautiful fable of the General's attempts to take-over the last un-conquered country. But his attempts. much to his frustration, are thwarted. This little country welcomes the soldiers their friendliness catching the invaders off-guard. so that rather than occupy, they adapt.

If this sounds rather a heavy, worthy message to bear in a picture book, it isn't. Or at least doesn't feel like it. McKee's light, expansive illustrations create a sense of an essentially benign world full of hope and humanity. The pages are populated by smiley, quirky-looking people and in the peaceful country. pink, yellow and blue trees grow in an idyllic community which borrows from V


Eastern European and 4'57." 9:4 ( I.) “ciflf’ J by. " .._-‘

Islamic traditions. Like all fine fables it works as a good story, like all great picture books, its illustration conjures whole new. magical worlds and as a message. it couldn't be more pertinent.

. the moon 200? If you join Carol Ann trip you will be. Theirs is a place where

outer space, And flash their bottoms at

Moon 200 (Macmillan, £9.99) 00.

We‘re going to the zoo. zoo. zoo how about you? But are you going to

Duffy and Joel Stewart on their latest

‘Ten baboons jump twenty feet into

the human race' and ‘The black-and— gold moon tiger leaps and paws. Scratches a shooting star with his claws.‘

It's an imaginary least with Duffy making the most of animals

bouncing about in space and her words are creatively worked

within Stewart's illustrations to enhance their sense ‘Polar bears come floating like big white clouds' the line really does float down the page with drifting bears.

But for all the undoubted care and talent. the nature of being on the moon lends a rather lonely feel to the book. There's something

' of an eerie silence within the barren landscape of the Sea of

Tranquillity and craters, tingeing the magic and humour with a

, melancholy that's hard to pin down. A bit like the floating bears.

Still, the verse and images are beautifully rendered and there's a

good sense of fun marking it out as more radical than many of its

cosier equivalents.

5—19 Feb 2004 THE LIST 97