Sunday 2 March 2014


 I am going to review two books written and illustrated by an artist (and writer) who's very well-known but who somehow, in spite of her talents and productivity, seems to me to be not as much appreciated as she ought to be.

Jackie Morris is on Twitter, where she frequently posts lovely 'work in progress' which delights her many followers and I do urge any of my readers who tweets to follow her. She lives in Wales with many animals and it's perhaps as an artist who both loves and properly sees animals that she's at her best. The first book I'm going to talk about is called I AM CAT and it's not much bigger than an iPhone. While watching her ginger cat, Pixie, sleeping ("curled in warm places, ammonite-tight") Morris was inspired to think of what her pet might be dreaming about. The answer is: other cats. Every kind of feline appears in the unscrolling dreams: cheetah, puma, snow leopard and many others.

Morris paints each creature in delicate colours that sing to us from the page. Even though the scale of the book is small, she manages to convey the grandeur and beauty of every single cat she describes. And she accompanies each spread with her own words which are both simple and poetic. Here is an example, describing the tiger: "s
...bright, flame cat of the forest, striped like the shadows, sun-scorched." I can't think of a better way to spend a fiver.  Frances Lincoln have published it most beautifully. This is a gem of a book.

The second book is SONG OF THE GOLDEN HARE, also published by the admirable Frances Lincoln. It's a much grander production, and it tells a mysterious, entrancing story of a boy and his sister. They come from a family who protect the Golden Hare, because there  are others who would hunt and kill it. The story unfolds with all the mystery and suspense you could wish for. The children find the Golden Hare and in the end, the creature is safe for who knows how long on a special magical island, to which it has been carried by an army of obliging seals. It's a lovely tale and again, told in Morris's poetic style, but the art is the real glory of this book. The Golden Hare itself is a wonderful creation, but greyhounds and people and birds and butterflies, not to mention the detailed landscapes, fill every corner of every spread. The colours are glorious and you can spend hours just admiring them and marvelling at the skill of the artist and wishing you could frame certain images and put them up on a wall.  As it is, you'll have to be content with turning the pages, preferably with someone young on your lap, listening as you read aloud the story of the mysterious Golden Hare and the lucky children who are called to care for it.


Written and illustrated by Jackie Morris
pub Frances Lincoln hbk £4.99
ISBN: 9781847805072


Written and illustrated by Jackie Morris
pub. Frances Lincoln hbk £12.99
ISBN: 9781847804501


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