Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Fairytale Dreaming

Swimming lessons will have to wait today. Our household is under siege by yet another Guernsey Germ. Someone has been unwell in our house at least every two to three weeks since we moved here. I have a theory that as we have not been exposed to the ‘bugs’ on this Island, but rather Australian ‘bugs’, we catch everything that is going around.

So it is a two post day. The dishes are done, the washing is put away and the children are fed. Now all I need do is wait for the arrival of my significant other; so to my computer I go.

I was given my first ‘Dean’s’ book, ‘Dean’s Gift Book of Nursery Rhymes’, for my seventh birthday by my friend Jodie. It was one of those magical books you own as a child, the type you wish you could step through the pages and enter the illustrated world beyond.

All the little girls are beautifully dressed,

the boys suitably scallywag,

the fairies sparkly and the animals adorable.

Years later at the Lifeline Book Sale in Brisbane I found another of the ‘Dean’s’ books; its spine was torn and cover very dented and dirty but I loved it anyway.

It was not until more years had passed that I came across one more of these books, by chance, on Ebay. It was then I realised it wasn’t actually specifically the Dean’s books I loved it was in fact the illustrators, Janet and Anne Grahame Johnstone.

Such a talent these two sisters had. They were twins born in 1928. They didn’t become popular illustrators until the 1950s. Janet’s work focused on birds and animals while Anne’s specialty was period costumes. They would always work on a piece together passing the work backward and forward until both of them were satisfied with the outcome.

They have illustrated more than 100 books during their joint career, including the original ‘101 Dalmatians’ by Dodie Smith, numerous fairytale books, ‘The Manxmouse’ by Paul Gallico and most famously ‘The Enchanted Wood’ by Enid Blyton.

Janet sadly died in 1979. Anne continued to work as an illustrator until 1998, when she passed away from cancer.

My collection of their works has now grown to thirteen books, most Dean's; all are battered and bruised but when I open the pages and read them to my own children I see in their eyes the sense of wonderment they evoked in me all those years ago.

So here is my little tribute to two inspiring women who captured my imaginative heart as a child and still hold it today.

1 comment:

  1. Hi there

    I am a huge fan of their work also, and am working on a fledgling collection of my own. I was wondering if you happened to have one of their books called "My Book Of Enchanting Fairy Tales"? There's a particular image in that book of a mermaid holding up a golden egg, and that one image in particular has great sentimental value for me. Of course, it would be the one image of theirs I can't find any where.
    I can't afford to buy the book online right now (I'm in South Africa exchange rates and other complications make it hard) so I'm trying to find some kind soul who might be willing to do a scan of it for me. If you do have the book in question, is there any way I could compel you to help me out?