Tuesday 12th April 2011
ANDY and I have been invited back to the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Those of you yet to discover the chucklesome charm of his Mr Gum books, grab a child immediately and head for the local library – if yours hasn’t been demolished to make way for a motorway service station, that is.
I was introduced to Andy Stanton by my oldest granddaughter. She’s one of those youngsters for whom life is a carousel of wonderment and laughter, dancing through each day with carefree song, impervious to the evil magnet of Moloch Murdoch.
“You have GOT to read this, Granddappy!”
When she talks in capital letters, you know she’s on to something. Galileo and Newton were bumbling fence-sitters in comparison.
I took the Mr Gum books with me on a train journey, nearly forgot to change at New Street, and kicked Kenneth Grahame off my top ten children’s authors list. Andy is the kind of writer that makes me want to be a writer. For when the girls come to stay, I have arranged – in chronological order and within easy reach, on top of the chest of drawers in ‘their’ room – his complete oeuvres. Knowing Andy, he’d no doubt suggest that’s no place for leaving beaten-up egg dishes.
So, he and I will be sharing a stage in Charlotte Square again in August. Yippee. Like a pair of tale-wagging sheep dogs, rounding up herds of silly words and stuffing them into a pen.
But today’s closing remarks must honour my granddaughters, the eldest of whom, a few years ago, came out with a classic, on noticing that my fondness for open sashes allowed scowls of gale into the living-room:
“It’s a bit chilly now, Granddappy. Can you turn the window off, please?”
Meanwhile her younger sister – a tap-dancing, chatterbox den-builder – has rewritten the family dictionary with her insistence that that mud-wallowing animal is a ‘hippanopoppannus’.
And then there’s the third of these giggly girls: seventeen months and already reminding the foam letters in her daily bath what their names are.
Kids, eh? Love ’em.