Sunday, 3 November 2013

Katie Morag

The Katie Morag books, written and illustrated by Mairi Hedderwick are radical. Not because they are about little red-haired Katie who lives on a Scottish Island, although it is a beautiful setting. Not because one of her grannies (she has two, Granny Mainland and Granny Island) wears dungarees, farms and drives a tractor, although that is awesome. Really, the reason I love these books is because Katies Mum is a little bit older than the usual kid lit mother. It looks to me as if she started having her kids in her late thirties and had the last one at about 42. She does not colour her hair so it is completely grey. Sometimes she looks absolutely exhausted. Often there are looks passed between her and Katies Dad (who has a combover, a combover!) that speak volumes about sleepless nights, rows about who is more tired and just the familiar normalcy of family life with small kids when you just don't have the energy you once did.

 So in this story, Katie Morag and the Tiresome Ted, Katies Mum has just had her third child. Things are tough because the family also run the village shop and post office and Katie is feeling neglected. In a fit of pique she kicks her beloved Ted into the sea and not surprisingly feels some bitter regret. After bursting a hot water bottle her mother reaches the end of her tether and sends her off to stay with Granny Island. (I wish someone would send me off for a few days to Granny Island.)

She busies Katie with jobs and fresh air and kindness and things turn out fine in the end. When Katie goes home her mother has had enough sleep to stay sane, but not, as you can see in the picture below, enough to re-hook her nursing bra after feeding the new baby. Anyone remember that kind of tiredness? I do.

The art in these books is lovely, it really show the rain and the wild beauty of those Scottish islands. I've never been there but I have been to the Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland and they are similar. Its a wild, windy, rainy loveliness. Look at all the details in the pictures. The mops leaning against the walls, the  binoculars on the windowsill, the dogs, the kilts, the box of buttons. 

There is a new series starting on CBBC based on the Katie Morag books, and a I do hope Mairi Hedderwick got a massive chunk of money for it. She really deserves it.

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