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January 11th, 2009

more missing going on

Sorry, I haven't meant to make these last two posts sound miserable, it's not all like that. But yesterday I was missing my sister, and today the very young neighbour girl came over on her first day back from visiting her mum in Nigeria, while her dad had to rush back to Nigeria because his mother had died. She held it together very well, helping me make apple-pear-raspberry crumble, making tracings on my light box and digging up my how-to-make paper airplanes book while I got on with some work. I often forget how young she is because she's so self-assured and perky. But after dinner, her mum rang again on her mobile and she collapsed into hard-core grieving and we had a long cuddle while Stuart and the aunties had crumble. Then I just didn't know what to do, but I spotted a Holly Hobbie book called Toot & Puddle next to the sofa and, wow, Holly Hobbie, I totally love you now. That book was just what we needed.



The book's about two little piglet friends who live together, and one goes overseas to explore the wide world, while the other stays at home but does lots of exploring there. Each page has a postcard from Toot to Puddle, saying how much fun he's having but also how much he loves and is thinking about his good friend; and we get to see Toot's wild globe-trotting adventures on the left-hand page and Puddle's exciting but much more North-American looking exploits on the right. At the end, they come back together and go to sleep in beds side by side in a warm pool of lamplight.



Okay, a little background on Holly Hobbie. I really liked her when I was little, but her signature girl in a bonnet and gingham didn't age very well and I wrote off her work as being a bit naff. But she seems to have reinvented herself with these Toot & Puddle books and her watercolour work is atmospheric and technically amazing. I saw the Toot & Puddle website and it looks a bit like they've had the Disney-style Winnie-the-Pooh treatment, but the two books I have - Toot & Puddle and Toot & Puddle: I'll be Home for Christmas - look simply gorgeous. Hobbie has remarkable skill at painting light and knowing just how to use warm and cool colours to create cosiness without being heavy handed. Her images are not, perhaps, something that's going to make swish London designer types go nuts, but then again, as much as I admire the work of someone like, say, Sara Fanelli, hers wasn't the kind of book we needed just then. Hooray for Toot and Puddle.

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Sarah McIntyre

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