05 March 2011

Eudoria's Broomstick

'They had twenty-two pints of beer each and promptly fell asleep', copyright Victor Knowland, and reproduced by kind permission of the author-and-artist's family. (Please do not copy).

Just over two years ago I blogged here about my favourite children's books, including Eudoria's Broomstick by Victor Knowland, and I also mentioned the book as a favourite when I was interviewed by The Guardian last summer. So far so normal.

Then a couple of weeks ago a most delightful and unexpected thing happened - I had a lovely e-mail from Victor Knowland's daughter Adrienne, telling me something of the book's continued use in the family, and the fact that their father had originally read it aloud to her and her siblings at bedtime, which meant that they couldn't wait to get to bed! She also very kindly gave me permission to put up one of the illustrations here - thank you, Adrienne!

Above, therefore, as a tribute to Victor Knowland, is his splendid image, originally done in scraperboard, of the Bus Conductor and the Driver (in the distance) sleeping off their lunch. At this point John, the hero of the book, his ever-hungry duck, Puff, and their companion Legs, a beetle, are travelling in search of Eudoria's lost broomstick, and their bus fares must be paid in food. The Conductor and Driver stop early to consume what they've collected in this way: hors d'oeuvre, turtle soup, fish and chips, roast duck, peas and new potatoes, trifle and cream, steam pudding, jelly and custard, pineapple slices, ice cream, coffee and milk chocolate. A splendid scoff at any time, and particularly considering that the book was published in 1950, when there was still some food rationing in place!