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To his lasting fame, BB wrote the greatest book about gnomes in the English language.
Its stature was recognised by the award of the Carnegie Medal in 1942 and it is the very best and the most well known of all his children’s books. It was probably inspired by his own childhood sighting of one of the little people in his bedroom. As ever, the book is full of BB’s superb scraperboard and colour illustrations. The exciting adventure captures the imagination using detailed descriptions of English fields, streams, and woodland which beguile the reader into thinking that under the root of any tree in the dappled shade beside a running brook there might well be a whole other world.
Denys Watkins-Pitchford (aka ‘BB’) 1905-1990
Denys Watkins-Pitchford was born 25th July 1905, the second son of a country clergyman, the Rev’d Walter Maristow Watkins-Pitchford.
Young Denys, along with his twin brother, Roger, was raised in the Northamptonshire village of Lamport in a lovely Queen Anne-style mansion, one of the loveliest rectories in England. He was a sickly child and was educated at home. But there was compensation, for he had plenty of spare time to explore the surrounding countryside with gun, rod and butterfly net.
At the age of four a significant event occurred, which was to colour his whole life. It happened one bright summer evening in the nursery at the top of the house where he incontrovertibly saw a gnome. Never was he to be shaken in his belief in the existence of the ‘little people’. At the age of 36 he wrote the greatest book about gnomes in the English language, the Carnegie award-winning saga The Little Grey Men.
His childlike excitement and wonder never left him, and untinged by adult sentimentality distinguishes his books and pictures; enhanced as they are by a profound sense of history in general and a knowledge of wildlife based on sensual experience.
An innate talent for drawing and painting gained him a place at Northampton School of Art from whence he won a travelling scholarship to Paris, became a post-graduate at the Royal College of Art and ended up as assistant art master at Rugby School, a post he held of 17 years, until he took up as a full-time writer and illustrator.
Although he was to become most famous as ‘BB’ the writer, the paintings and drawings that he did in his own name - ‘Denys Watkins-Pitchford’ were always the mainspring of his activity and style.
What an unusual and powerful novel. The setting is an island in an unspecified fantasy world inhabited by a community of women who live separate from men, dedicating themselves to the worship of the Triple Goddess. Maresi is a young novice, sent there by her family to escape famine, and still wracked by guilt over the death of her little sister. She loves her new life, the women live austere lives but there’s ample time for friendship and study. Their peace is threatened when another girl arrives, on the run from her violent father, and the reader quickly realises that he will never let his daughter escape. The tension before his arrival is palpable, and the violence he brings with him truly shocking. Even so, he’s no match for Maresi. Turtschaninoff creates an original fantasy world, and her parable of sisterhood and bravery will enthral readers. ~ Andrea Reece Readers might also enjoy Ursula Le Guin’s epic Earthsea series and Margaret Atwood’s science fiction. A Piece of Passion from Adam Freudenheim, MD and publisher of Pushkin Children’s Books “I was blown away by Maresi, quite simply. Turtschaninoff has written an incredibly original, vivid and gripping story with appeal not only for YA readers but far beyond. And embedded in the story is a passionate feminist voice that will resonate with a wide variety of readers. It is testament to the sheer quality of Maresi that we have chosen it as our first ever YA title, and I’ve no doubt that Maresi and The Red Abbey Chronicles as a whole will become classics of the genre.”
This timeless tale introduces readers to Dodder, Baldmoney, Cloudberry, and Sneezewort ... the last four gnomes in Britain. The brothers live a happy and peaceful life until the day that Cloudberry decides to go and explore. When he doesn't return the remaining three brothers build a boat and set off on an adventure of their own to find him.
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