Wednesday, February 09, 2011

This is sad...

Brian Jacques, Writer of Redwall Series, Dies at 71
Nearing midlife, Mr. Jacques (pronounced “Jakes”) took a job driving a milk truck in Liverpool, where he was born and lived to the end of his life. On his route was the Royal School for the Blind.

Invited in for a nice cup of tea one day, he volunteered to read to the students. Over time, he grew dissatisfied with the books available — too much adolescent angst, he later said — and vowed to write his own.

He wrote what he called “a proper story,” brimming with battle and gallantry. Titled “Redwall” and published in 1986, it became the first installment in what is now a best-selling 21-volume children’s fantasy series.

Mr. Jacques died on Saturday in Liverpool, at 71.
He certainly did write "proper stories" and the Redwall books are wonderful. Even better are the full-cast recordings that he did of them. (He didn't do all of them, but at least a few.) He had a radio career, as well, and understood what sounded right. We saw him do a reading many years ago, when the kids were little, and he talked about some of the different influences on the characters. The hares, for example, are all modeled after the RAF pilots of the WWII era. The moles are Liverpudlian coal miners. And the casts that he put together to record them understood what they were doing - they make for wonderful listening.

And they were wonderful books, filled with action and excitement and gallantry and nobility and "proper" human virtues. In a world where there's too little of all of them.

For the last 10 years or so, there's been a new Redwall book under the Christmas tree every year. It's sad that there won't be anymore...

RIP, Mr. Jacques.

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