Scrumptious Ben Cookie Mondays

I wanted to post about a favourite cookie bakery of mine, Ben’s Cookies – which sell some beautifully soft, chewy and chocolatey cookies which are just perfect – not too sweet, not too chewy and freshly baked. My favourite thing about this cookie though, is the logo, which was designed by the wonderful Quentin Blake – one of my favourite illustrators.

I don’t often get a chance to have some cookies from Ben’s Cookies (although when I do, I always go for the double chocolate!) but it’s makes my day when I go past a Ben’s Cookies bakery or stand, and I’m always recommending it to everyone I know so they can enjoy the cakey goodness.

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Fairy Tales & Long Tails: The Top 10 Fairy Tale Re-Tellings

I’m a big fan of re-tellings of fairy tales, the more detailed and historically accurate the better, particularly if they’re set in a specific period of history or place (or even in a sci-fi type of setting which doesn’t exist in normal history!)

I’ve grown up with Grimms fairy tales and Hans Christian Anderson short stories and fairy tales, and while I devoured them as a young child (the grislier the story, the better!), it always left me wanting a bit more. What happened to the servant-girl-turned-princess after she married the prince? Did she get on with her in-laws? Did she have to learn to cook and manage the household, or did she get bored? Why was it that the heroine was always beautiful, charming, slim and easy to befriend? What happened to the plain girls, or the ones that didn’t have fairy godmothers? What if the wandering princess who ran away didn’t meet a friendly passer-by, and ran into someone with darker intentions, or she didn’t end up making friends with generous, understanding animals and get food from them?

These days, of course, such stories aren’t enough. I’m always looking for stories, which look beyond the original fairy tales, which have more to them than relying on the beauty of the heroine to save her, or the princely-ness of the hero to get him along and defeat the dragon. My biggest gripe, I think, is the fact that the hero and heroine always get married the next day after their troubles are over, and live ‘happily ever after’ – what exactly constitutes a happy ending? Having lots of gold and wearing pretty dresses to balls? Having children who were royal and then retiring to old age where they would reminisce over their adventures of youth? Or even just surviving to a certain age with all your limbs intact. A lot of the fairy tales we read as youngster glossed over these parts, making sure that the story ended when the hero got his gal.

For me, it isn’t always the case – which is why I turn to fairy tale re-tellings to see these characters fleshed out and their lives developed to something more credible.

That’s not to discredit fairy tales at all, I certainly do see the appeal of an easy story, where prince-meets-girl, has a dilemma of some sorts and then eventually it all ends in marriage (this is starting to sound more and more like an Asian Star Plus drama), and there’s a magic to them which is unique; but in this day and age I think we question a lot of these stories, and it’s easy then, to see why re-tellings of fairy tales are popular – to acquaint us with the heroes and their flaws more fully, and to immerse ourselves in a fairy tale in all it’s details.

So here are my Top Ten fairy-tales retold, by various authors, although it’s by no mean conclusive (I’m reading one at the moment!) – and there’s certainly more I wanted to add to the list but couldn’t!

10. Castle in the Air – Diana Wynne Jones
I’m not sure how much this fits into the category of ‘fairy tales’ or typical fantasy stories, but Diana Wynne Jones has always been one of my favourite authors, because of her wacky, wonderful storylines and her mix of sci-fi, fantasy, quirky humour and odd brand of romance which has always utterly appealed to me. This is re-telling of sorts, of the tale of Aladdin and his quest to marry the princess he is in love with – but of course, all sorts go wrong, and there are plenty of other wizards, djinns, witches and magicked cats thrown into the mix to make the plot all the more complex. I loved this book, and although it was a written as a sort-of sequel to Howl’s Moving Castle (which I also loved!), Castle in the Air has its own unique style which is something I really think would appeal to readers who aren’t interested in traditional fairy tales – particularly because of the way the story has a quirky way of being able to relate to us in an ordinary way too.

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9. Beauty – Robin McKlinley
I’ve read a couple of versions of Beauty and the Beast, but this one appealed to me less because of the storyline, and more because of the atmosphere it creates. Although it’s quite a solemn story, the characters created are endearing, and McKinley is one of my favourite fairy tale-retellers because of her ability to make ordinary doings interesting. In this story, Beauty is not so beautiful (although her two sisters are), and their fortunes are not so fortunate, as their father’s business is ruined and they are forced to move to the countryside to survive. From there the story begins, where Beauty’s father strikes a deal with the Beast to save his life, and where there’s always a suggestion of magic which is never quite revealed til the end.

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8. Wildwood Dancing – Juliet Marillier
I loved this story as a child – twelve princess sisters go dancing every night, all night, so that every morning their slippers would be worn out, much to the consternation of their father who never figures out why – until he sets a task that any man who manages to find out will be rewarded with marriage to one of the daughters (plus the kingdom). Juliet Marillier is another of my absolute favourite authors, one who captures a period beautifully and puts in a lot of research into her books so that the detail is just amazing. Wildwood Dancing is set in 16th Century Transylvania, and is based on just five sisters who go dancing every night – but it is here that it gets more eerie. The ‘Other Kingdom’ they visit every night has more than just fairy folk, there’s a hint of ‘Night’ people, vampires, and the risk of losing one’s self. Add that to the threat of forced marriages to overbearing cousins, and the idea of ‘wildwood dancing’ becomes less innocent and merry, and instead more about the sisters’ survival and independence. A great read, and one of Marillier’s best.

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7. Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister – Gregory Maguire
I love Gregory Maguire’s imagination and the way he twists a traditional story to make you look at it from a completely different angle – and Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister is no different. Maguire sets this story during the ‘tulip mania’ era in the 1600s, where the two ‘ugly’ sisters and their toughened mother Margareuthe have fled the witch claims of England to Netherland to find their fortune among the buying and selling of valuable tulip bulbs. Meeting the spoiled Clara and her rich parents, Margareuthe quickly sets to finding a place in the household, and moving upwards from there amidst a backdrop of art, religion and the idea of beauty – which is ambiguous, complex, and certainly doesn’t tell us who the heroine is in this whole tale.

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6. Deerskin – Robin McKinley
This is one of the darker stories I’ve read, and certainly it is a brave one. I remember reading this story as a young child (and an African version of it as well!), of a widowed King who cannot find anyone to match his late wife’s beauty – and instead decides to marry his daughter. While in the original fairy tale the horrified princess escapes, meets a prince and lives happily ever after, in McKinley’s tale, there are a lot darker events which take place which change the heroine’s life forever. McKinley’s writing style is almost ethereal here, and it’s certainly a brave topic she covers – rather than writing about balls, riches and beauty, she writes about surviving rape, losing family, and looking for acceptance in adversity. And I think she succeeds well in this novel, creating a character who is truly admirable and shows the real meaning of being a princess, and of the strength it takes to rebuild yourself have faith in yourself. A very moving book, although heart-breaking in places too.

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5. Ella Enchanted – Gail Carson Levine
This is probably the most recent fairy tale re-telling that I read, and I really liked the quirky, funny tone of it, which tells the story of a girl whose fairy-tale gift at birth forces her to be obedient, amongst a land of ogres, fairies and gnomes. Which is not the best gift, seeing as Ella finds herself being forced to obey commands from others who don’t always have her best interests at heart. Although this is just a loosely based on the story of Cinderella and has its own side tangent, it’s still a good story in itself (I preferred this much more over the film too!), and has plenty of ways of showing the good side of fairy tale creatures and magic.

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4. Revolting Rhymes – Roald Dahl
I have no idea if this counts, but I’ll add it in because Roald Dahl is another favourite author, and I LOVE wacky, satirical takes on any story, which Dahl spins perfectly. These are a collection of short poems which tell classic fairy tales in a completely opposite way (Cinderella runs away with a nice man who makes jam, for example), in true Roald Dahl style, with brilliant Quentin Blake illustrations. If you like Dahl’s work, you will probably already have read this.

My favourite line is probably from the Red Riding Hood story:

The small girl smiles. One eyelid flickers.
She whips a pistol from her knickers.
She aims it at the creature’s head
And bang, bang, bang, she shoots him dead.

Classic stuff. Read the poems online here, or otherwise at your local bookstore/library/nephew’s house, you cheapskates.

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3. Spindle’s End – Robin McKinley
This story is one which I’ve read and re-read quite a few times, because I loved the beautifully captured characters in the story. Sleeping Beauty has always been a story which intrigued me as a child, partly because of the scary evil fairy and also partly because of the whole intrigue of a fairy hidden away to save her life. In this story, she is hidden away in a small town, “as safe as ordinariness can make her”, and turns into everything but a typical princess – she hates singing, dancing or needle-work and loves following the blacksmith around, befriending animals and has short hair – exactly what makes a loveable, clever and even brave character. There’s a great twist to the tale at the end, which also adds a whole new depth to the story and makes it even more brilliant for me. This was the first book I read by McKinley, and it’s also my favourite of  hers, since it’s one she really makes her own in an original way.

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2. Tender Morsels – Margo Lanagan
I absolutely love this story, and it was a very close contender for the number one spot, simply because of how much I liked this story about the two sisters, Snow White and Rose Red. It’s not an easy read, and one which does not shy away from difficult topics like rape, incest and violence, yet does so in a very classy way which focuses the story on its magic, and the amazing characters. This was a really strong feminist story, in my view, which teaches about women being independent and strong despite difficult circumstances, and also the idea of love and family prevailing over all. I’ve recommended this book to (and practically forced it onto) several friends and sisters, to get them to be as enthralled as I was with this book, partly because reading it made  me realise why I loved reading and fairy tales so much.

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1. Daughter of the Forest – Juliet Marillier
This is probably the book which I read as a young teen and which captured my heart with fairy re-telling, and I’ve never looked back since. This story is based on a classic one about a sister and her six brothers (although various stories have more brothers or don’t involve swans) who are targeted by their evil stepmother, the brothers turned into swans and the sister chased away. Marillier completely develops this story so that it is set in old-time Ireland, where the protagonist is Sorcha, only daughter of a Gaelic chieftain who has to fight for her brother’s lives when they are endangered. There is plenty of subtle magic, romance and eeriness in this novel, and also plenty of flaws in each character – which is made all the more readable by the amazing research and detail put in by Marillier about this period. While this follows the lines of a traditional fairy tale, it is so much more than this – there is a lot of emphasis on the cruelty of humans and well as their love, and the fact that Sorcha is a young girl who is at a turning point of her life which changes her life. I think I related to this as a teen because her character is a ruly, grubby tomboy at first, something which girls can imagine rather than being royal princesses – and it is this which made her more realistic. This is another story I’ve been trying to force on others for years, and which I won’t stop recommending because of how amazing it is.

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There’s lots more books to check out which re-tell fairy tales (I haven’t even read a lot of these, but they’re all on my reading list!) – they all have different takes on the fairy tales and a lot of these have had good reviews.
  • White as Snow – Tanith Lee
  • Rose Daughter – Robin McKinley
  • Mirror Mirror – Gregory Maguire
  • Jane Yolen – Briar Rose
  • Strands of Bronze and Gold – Jane Nickerson
  • Zel – Donna Jo Napoli
  • Sleeping Beauty by Anne Rice (be warned, this is more 18-rated!)
  • Rose Daughter – Robin McKinley
  • Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow – Jessica Day George
  • Beauty Sleep: A Retelling of “Sleeping Beauty”- by Cameron Dokey
  • Wicked – Gregory Maguire
  • East – by Edith Pattou
  • A Curse Dark As Gold – Elizabeth C. Bunce
  • Enchantment – Orson Scott Card
  • Goose Girl – Shannon Hale
  • A Kiss in Tim – Alex Flinn
  • Golden – Cameron Doke

Please feel free to tell me about any you’ve read that you would recommend!

Fairy Tales & Long Tails: The Top 10 Witches

One aspect of supernatural and fairy tales which take many forms is witchcraft, and of course, the witches who practise it. And witches have always appealed to me (more than the twee vampire stuff that’s floating around these days anyway), because of idea of magic they are able to have access to, and the idea of abilities beyond human ones. Here’s a list of the top ten witches which are most recognisable in both literature and film.

1. The Grand WitchThe Witches, Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl made us shiver with his imagination when we were kids, and with a kid-murdering, bald, toe-less, evil group of witches like these, it’s no wonder why. And of them all, the Grand Witch (is majestically and wonderfully captured by that good old magician Quentin Blake) is the scariest witch, being a creepy, mad-eyed woman whose beautiful mask hides an ugly heart and a plot to turn all the smelly children into miceys. If you didn’t read this in your childhood then you won’t know what a witch is.

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2. The Three Hubble Bubble witchesMacbeth, Shakespeare
One from the classic, the ‘original’ three witches who warn Macbeth of his future as a king. Sort of like a medieval, Scottish version of the three Greek Fates, but without the single eyeball between them. Much of the witchy lines we recognise today is taken from this play (“Something wicked this way comes” for example) and while their appearance in the famous play isn’t very long, they are pivotal to the plot and give a dark tone to the idea of being King . We never find out what’s boiling and toiling in the cauldron though.

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3. Jadis, or The White WitchNarnia Chronicles, C. S. Lewis
Literally a cool one, she a white witch by colour only, but her intent is all black. Keeping the land of Narnia in permanent Winter, turning her rivals and opposers into stone, sacrificing Aslan the lion and feeding Turkish Delight to Edward, the crime list goes on (I never forgave her for the Turkish Delight, I absolutely hate that stuff. Yeuch.) While her arrogance is her undoing, her reign in Narnia is one which becomes legend in both the book itself and in Narnia.

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Vogue baby, vogue.

4. Hocus Pocus sister witchesHocus Pocus
We loved watching Hocus Pocus (still do), if only because the witches are amazingly dopey, each sillier than the last. And they’re a personal favourite in my house because all of my sisters like to describe each other as being one of the witches (apparently I’m the Sarah Jessica Parker one, probably cos she jumps around a lot with her hair flying out. I dunno.) Bette Midler is never better as the goofy, evil witch in this film, and while it’s cheeky, it’s also a hilarious combination. The classic line in my house is ‘booooookk‘. Now there’s a real book lover.

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5. SabrinaSabrina the teenaged witch
Who said all witches had to be bad? Sabrina was the witch who was just like us…and also a secret witch. And who wouldn’t want to change her clothes in the morning with just a click of fingers? Sure, there were nosey Aunts, philandering black cat familiars and the annoying love rival at school, but Sabrina managed it all in time to come home for tea and do her homework in time.

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6. Mildred, The Worst WitchJill Murphy
I remember reading this series when I was younger, about a scatty, unorganised witch with the worst luck ever, making her a terrible witch. But it was always great fun, there was something slightly Enid Blyton-ish about reading about her school adventures, her little cat Tabby and of course her teachers, such as Miss Cackle (obvious name, no?) – although she also appealed to me because of her slightly geeky, and very messy plaits.

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7. HermoineHarry Potter series, J. K. Rowling
Who can forget this witch? She’s a genius with her academics, she’s  a crazily talented witch, and she seems to prefer redheads. ‘Nuff said.

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8. Samantha, BewitchedBewitched tv series
Witches have marriages, in-law issues and parent problems too. And no one does a nose-squiggle like Samantha. I always liked the older series over the new version, if only because I kinda want my marriage to be one like Samantha’s and Darrin’s (including the random penguins you’ll find walking around in their house!)

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9. Serafina PekkalaThe Golden Compass/Northern Lights trilogy, Philip Pullman
This is one of the more interesting witches, she’s young, beautiful and fights on the side of evil. I like the protrayal of witches in the Golden Compass trilogy because of how non-conventional the witches are, they are seen as full of fire and vivacity, with Serafina Pekkala at the forefront as the witch queen. I thought Eva Green played this role quite well in the movie, especially because her style lends itself a lot to the fanstasy aspects of the novel.

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10. The Wicked Witch of the West, or ElphabaWizard of Oz, Wicked by Gregory Murphy, Orange mobile adverts
Out of all of them, this has got to be one of my favourites. And not just because of her stripy tights (I used to have a similar pair in high school. Those were not my best fashion moments). The Wicked Witch seems to encapsulate all the clichéd things about witches we grew up with – a green, pointy face, a black hat and cap, a wicked cackly laugh and evil creatures to do her bidding. One of my friends once said that I look a bit like green witch in the Orange adverts. All I can say is that if I had a team of flying monkeys at my disposal, I wouldn’t be chasing after a girl for her sparkly shoes, I’d send them to Louboutin instead. I also LOVE the re-interpretation of the Wicked Witch (and her sister, the Witch of the East) in Gregory Maguire’s Wicked, showing the political struggles of animals and their hierarchy, as well as the discrimination suffered by Elphaba  the green ‘witch’ due to the colour of her skin.

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I did try to think of more witches but didn’t have a lot of luck (apart from the ‘Disney witches like Snow White’s Evil Queen, or the cannibal witch in Hansel and Greta, similar to the Baba Yaga type character in African stories), especially because I didn’t want to churn out a list of the standardised idea of what a witch should be. For example, I was going to include the evil witch Maleficent from the classic Sleeping Beauty, but she’s more of an evil fairy, and there are many versions of this story which means there will always be another type of fairy or witch.

What other witches can you think of? And would you put fairies and witches in the same category?

Fairy Tales & Long Tails: The Top 10 Most Famous Literary Villains

I’ve always found villains in books to be fascinating, whether it’s because of their glee when they’re causing havoc, their deeply fascinating intellectual psych or whether it’s because they’re just downright entertainingly evil in a way that the heroes are never allowed to be. Maybe it’s also because the villains symbolise the free, uninhibited sides of ourselves that do all the things we’d want to do if only we didn’t have that darn conscience. Although for those of you listening to that pesky voice telling you to burn stuff…er…that might not apply.

Here’s my list of Top Ten in no particular order:

1. Lord Voldemort (or Tom Marvolo Riddle) – Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling
This is a pretty disturbing character, showing how magic can go to one’s head (and burn off your nose to make you look like a cocaine-user in the process). Lord Voldemort is a sinister wizard, intelligent, manipulative and quite charismatic – a lethal combination which works well to gather followers who are willing to destroy, murder and battle in his name. With people being afraid to say his name out loud, he is almost comparable to a mythical legend whose actions have a long-lasting, although terrible, legacy. The film adaptation did justice to his creepiness, showing a ruin of a man with barely any humanity left and a consuming ambition to win – not to mention a seriously worrying face problem. Dentist, anyone?

2. The Grand WitchThe Witches, Roald Dahl
An old hag severely in need of a face-lift, The Grand Witch is the ultimate scary witch with features that you never even knew about until you read this book. Bald, blue-spitted, wonky teeth, square feet and with about a hundred other maladies which also sound suspiciously like something a lot of old people might suffer from (hate children, always telling children to take a bath), the Grand Witch has ambitions no less than to rid the population of their greatest pests – children. Quentin Blake captured the look well, using sinister looking figures with scary eyes and wonky noses to make us think twice about every other strange woman who offers us sweets in the street. Not that I ever took sweets, Werthers Originals were never my thing, hmmph.

3. Count DraculaDracula, Bram Stoker
The original of the Gothic bloodsuckers, this character is surprisingly understated in the actual book itself, rather than the Hammerstein-style, blood-spatter and gore we often see today. Nor is he like the sexy-pire seen in Angel and Buffy, with their techno-gadgets and sparkly stakes. Dracula is a Transylvanian aristocrat who uses dreams, charisma, manipulation and intelligence to fool the hero, Jonathan Harker, and manages to get very bitey with Mina, his fiance/wife. What follows is a difficult journey to hunt down a cleverly hidden vampire who is difficult to defeat.
Not to be confused with Vlad the Drac, the vegetarian vampire, who incidentally also is a pretty nifty dancer too.

4. Lady MacbethMacbeth, William Shakespeare
Quite possible one of the coolest villains, both in level-headedness and erm…levels of awesomeness, Lady M is a very memorable female anti-hero who isn’t quite villain nor heroine. Unlike her weaker-willed other half, she’s a strong character and willingly pushes her hubby onto meet her higher ambitions (who WOULDN’T want to be Queen, eh?) Although she’s finally reduced to a hand-wringing wreaked, unravelled by her own imagination and visions of blood, she’s proof that behind a successful man is a pushy woman who may not necessarily always be his mother.

5. SauronLord of the Rings, J. R. R. Tolkien
This villain is more than just a big eye in the sky, it’s a FIERY, angry eye in the sky. Unlike the more subtle, politically-charged eye of Orwell’s Big Brother, this eye is constantly searching for the One Ring which will bring him better broadband quality and more Sky channels. Or something like that anyway.
Makes you want to buy some eye drops for the poor, cranky thing.

6. IagoOthello, William Shakespeare
Another of ole Billy Shakespeare’s creations (yes I’m a fan of Mr S, as you can see), this time of a master of the manipulative mind-changing and seed-sowing. And he’s not very nice to his wife either.  Iago is the epitome of the whispering devil on your shoulder, being careful to side-step any actions which could land himself in trouble while always encouraging the worst in others for his own entertainment and jealousy. Racist, jealous and sexist, this is a pretty nasty character, and not someone you’d want to your pet guinea pig to in case he micro-waved it out of pure spite.

7. Professor MoriartySherlock Holmes Casebooks, Arthur Conan Doyle
Moriarty is the ultimate brainy villain, designed to be Sherlock’s perfect arch-enemy to match his wits. Always in the middle of a network of thieves, spies and murderers, Moriarty represents chaos and villainy, always escaping away in the background without being caught in an exasperating slippery way. Mind you, this is from the Victorian period where people were so prude they’d put pieces of fabric around table legs to hide any potential scandal from looking at…well…it’s legs.

8. The White WitchThe Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, C. S. Lewis
With her shares in the Turkish Delight Factory, a questionable hairdo and a face seriously in need of some make-up to liven it up, the White Queen is another female delight who does the usual tyrannical thing of keeping the land in ice and terror. Oh, and turns anyone who defies her into stone. While her social skills need some serious dusting, her levels of scary-ness and witchy-ness are pretty up to scratch. My sister dressed up as the White Witch once, all she did was wear a white dress and put a white scarf on her head and she won the prize for best dressed costume. I went as Alice in Wonderland but just about managed a blue dress and a random apron which nobody understood what I was meant to be. I’m guessing the long black Pocahontas-hair didn’t help much.

9. The JokerBatman, Bob Kane
Although technically a graphic novel villain rather than a literary villain, I still think the Joker deserves his place in this Hall of (obscure) Fame. Having several facets to his personality, and being seen as genius, insane, evil, criminal and heck, even funny (well, he IS the Joker), he is arguably one of the most famous and fascinating villains in graphic novels which has been interpreted and re-interpreted by so many. I love the fact that several actors have made this role their own, each representation unique to the other, and yet still open to others to be re-invented. Not sure I approve of his crazed make-up style, but you gotta love the jokes : )

10. President SnowThe Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
I had to mention this sinister fella, due to all the hype recently from both the books and the film adaptation, and it can be agreed that this blood-breath’d and rose-obssessed President is one you certainly wouldn’t want to cross paths with. Cold, politically inspired and willing to sacrifice anyone to make an example, this is a character who uses brutal, Battle-Royale style games to keep the country in check. While his motives are continually questioned throughout the novel, he is a character that is hard to feel sympathetic for, simply because he’s just a smug git.

There are, of course, hundreds more villains out there that I’ve missed out (otherwise I’d be here all day), but to me, these are definitely the ones which come to mind when I think of ‘villain’ in the traditional sense. Oh and I’d like to make an honoury mention to Dahl’s The Twits simply because they always made me laugh, and they look like half of my family does first thing in the morning :).

Any more literary villains you think there are worth mentioning?

My Favourite Illustrators #1: Quentin Blake

Quentin Blake has always been one of my all-time favourite illustrators, for the way that a simple glance at his creations will evoke strong memories of my childhood (and a much of my adulthood), huddled in a corner with blanket, some chocolate biscuits and a Roald Dahl book, completely lost in the magic world of Dahl’s words and Blake’s beautiful, quirky characters. Quentin’s characters are always wonderfully full of personality in a way which goes beyond caricature, carrying a charm which makes reading all the more fun. The deliberately untidy drawings, precise scribbly style and exaggerated features, to me, always had an important message; that it’s not important to be beautiful (or perfectly drawn), but rather to be unique, unusual and happy with your flaws. If you look at any of Blake’s illustrations, there will rarely be a wonderful looking, or even normal character, they all had a curious slant to them which tells a story in itself: Quentin Blake’s quirky style is ever present in what has become his trademark style over the years.

And of course his work is not restricted to the wonderful Mr Roald Dahl, Quentin Blake’s work has taken him across many projects, which continue even today. He has created many prints, canvases, cards and many more for people to enjoy, as well as exhibiting his work. And of course he is also a children’s author himself, having published his own work, his latest being a published compilation of his work ‘Frabjous Beasts and Frumious Birds’, as well as numerous children’s books.

According to Quentin Blake’s website, he was a drawer from a young age, and he really is an artist for people of all ages to enjoy (I particularly loved the fact that he studied for an English degree before his career with art, there’s hope for me yet!)

You can see I have a total love for his illustrations, and I am sure I am not the only one, for who else doesn’t remember his excited little inky creatures on paper, come to life with our imaginations and his pen?
Quentin Blake is truly a piece of our childhood, that wizard who reading that much more fun for us and drew pieces for all of us to identify with.

And if you’re not sure whether you agree as strongly as I do, pick up one of his work on your bookshelf (I bet you have a copy of a Dahl book somewhere) and have a flick through, see if one of his pictures won’t make you smile : )
(The one below reminds me very strongly of the children in my family, cheeky little grubbins)

All images in this post are copyrighted and belong to Quentin Blake