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It's been ages since I posted here, I have had a break while I have been doing garden work: garden work and re designing my courtyard having been my main all-encompassing project for the last little while, rather than my art or anything I have to offer.
But I am still a lover of art, illustration and books. Now that my daughter is 15 and a fully independent reader, we don't often snuggle together and share a leisurely read of a beautiful picture book, although occasionally we'll reminisce over a favourite or two.
I have a Certificate in Children's Literature from Canterbury University, which I gradually worked at over four delightful years of pure indulgence, where I got to study, compare and analyse various illustrative devices in children's picture books - what fun. That was a Learn Abundantly part of my personal mission statement.
However, this post is less from an educated angle, than from the position of the joy of sharing some of my favourite picture books ever from a variety of worldwide authors. I may even throw in one of my own picture books.
So without further ado, here is one of my favourite books ever, The Princess and the Perfect Dish by Australian author, Libby Gleeson. Funny that one of my faves should be about food, since I spend so much time thinking about growing and using it. Here is the summary of the story from the author's website: A princess grows up with the powerful memory of a taste she enjoyed in her childhood. She determines to marry the one who can cook for her the most wonderful, taste tempting, mouthwatering dishes imaginable. A feminist fairy tale. Illustrated by Armin Greder.
The story starts with a lonely king and queen who eventually have a much loved daughter, who got to have everything she wanted.
One day she threw her golden ball too far and came across a beautiful fruit... Armin Greder the illustrator perfectly illustrates Libby Gleeson's narrative:
A single shimmering fruit hung, just within her reach.
She picked the fruit and it was warm and smooth to her touch. She lifted it and smelt its rich perfume. She bit into it and at once she sucked on all the wildest, sweetest flavours she had ever known. Excitement and wonder were hers and those feeling stayed with her until she could no longer feel the flesh and juices on her tongue.
I know. Isn't that just beautiful? Anyway, this ecstatic experience is similarly illustrated at other key times in the story.
But it had to happen. The perfect and blissful childhood had to end, and before long her parents were giving our now womanly heroine several coming of age talks.
Again and again her parents talked until finally the Princess gave in.
'If I am to marry,' she said, 'then it will be to someone that I choose.'
Anyway, to cut a long story short, they agreed to her having a marriage contest of sorts:
'I will marry the one who is able to prepare for me, the most wonderful, mouthwatering, taste-tempting dishes imaginable.' ...
As you can imagine, Princes from far and wide turned up with food. She gave them a try, but none provided an especially ecstatic experience, none worth marrying anyway. Then one day, a commoner saw her going past on her horse, and just had to meet her.
Before long, this nice young man was being kind to an elderly stranger, who showed him a vine which grew over the palace wall.
'There is your way to the Princess,' she said.
He plays his guitar for her from under her window, and, as you do, she let him in to her room.
Next thing, he's in her room, and having grabbed some fruit on the way, offers it to her. Imagine her surprise...
Next thing, they are lying together and having that same ecstatic experience, with doves and flowery fields.
At her first bite she smelt the rich perfume and tasted the wild sweetness, the freedom and wonder of her childhood.
At the second she was overwhelmed by warmth and love. By the third she was holding her arms out to the young man, sharing the fruit with him. She drew him to her, saying, 'You may feed, no, feast with me forever.'
Life is good. The search is over. She's found the perfect dish.