Sometimes procrastination pays off. I have been putting off reviewing the scads of picture books I have piled up ready for the holidays. How pleased that Dame Lynley Dodd’s newest offering is one of these because this week I was thrilled to spend not one but two sessions in the presence of this living treasure – arguably New Zealand’s greatest author.
The Moreton Bay library services hosted a Dame Lynley Dodd extravaganza and I was firstly not only amazed that such a momentous occasion was to be held locally but that also there was such a minimal cost!
First of all, Thursday afternoon was an hour’s glorious In Conversation with Dame Lynley Dodd. I am reliably informed by the lovely Zoe B from Penguin Random House that there were 400 attendees. Interviewed by her good friend and curator of her art exhibition, Penelope Jackson (herself a well-known art historian and author) the rapt audience was treated to insights into Lynley’s early life, career and ongoing work.
Saturday was an even greater thrill with two master classes hosted by the Redcliffe Art Gallery. First we revelled in an hour’s guided tour of the Telling a Story with Dame Lynley Dodd exhibition with Pamela Jackson describing original artworks, inspirations and works-in-progress. This was followed by a personal workshop of around twenty people all of whom were completely and utterly entranced by Lynley’s walk through of her approach to writing and illustrating. What is there to say? It was wonderful and special and truly a highlight of my year, both personal and professional.
Taking centre stage of course (with Dame Lynley reading it to us during the Thursday session) was her newest and 34th book:
Scarface Claw, Hold Tight
October 2, 2017
Using the inspiration of a local news story about a cat that was blissfully sleeping on the roof of its owner’s car (quite a common scenario) and the ensuing pandemonium when the owner takes off into town, Scarface Claw – that disreputable and ruffian-like feline – is subjected to a wild ride.
As one can imagine, the driver has no clue that he has an unintentional stowaway and is slightly bemused by all the passersby who madly wave to him in attempts to halt his progress.
Of course, after all these futile attempts the inevitable happens and the poor unknowing driver comes to a sudden stop whereupon a rather disgruntled and discombobulated Scarface unceremoniously slides to the car bonnet.
This book was referred to, as quoted in the Conversation session, as vintage Dodd and of course it is. That seemingly effortless rollicking rhyme to which every child responds recounts Scarface’s adventure with humour and spirit, while all the while we are quite sure that there will be a safe and happy outcome.
Long we may enjoy the delight of Dodd! Now that some of us are enjoying them in a third generation without them ever losing their original joy, we can only hope for many more.
Highly recommended for all little and larger readers from toddler age upwards.