Just a little teaser of things in the pipleline… a smack of fiction for, hopefully, the old and young alike this Sunday Afternoon! Happy Wellington’s Day, everybody! xx
The Adventures of Lady Josa Pean
Lady Josa Pean and the Reading Aloud Book
Note to the Reader
Of all that you will find within the pages of this book, there is one thing that you will not: namely, even the slightest hint as to the true identity of the Lady Josa Pean. Illustrators may find her in that magical place, deeply treasured in their imagination. But that is between them and her. As unusual as this may seem, the reasons for this particular omission were made very clear by the likes of the Lady herself.
Firstly, the Lady wishes to remain unknown for the very same reason that I, the Author, am the scribe of her adventures. She is, above all things, a Reader Only, and the life of the Writer does not afford the anonymity to which she has grown accustomed, and gradually very fond of.
Secondly, she has insisted throughout our dealings that the Adventures of Lady Josa Pean are not so much about the girl in these adventures, as they are about the tales themselves, about the extraordinary things that Wait, in unrest and jiggery anticipation between the lines and pages of every unopened book.
Finally, as a self-professed Reader Only, the Lady is a firm believer in what a little imagination can do, and that is to say, surprisingly, A Lot. As the years have gone by and age crept up, the girl of her youth has nevertheless remained, as she always did, in a banana-yellow hammock inside a secret chamber in the Lady’s heart. And this young girl at heart keeps a constant vigil, reminding the now grown-up Lady of the nature of the imagination, which is naturally boundless. ‘It is the only thing of which we can be certain,’ she once relayed to me, with all the seriousness of a pontification of priests. And yet, sadly, it is the one thing that grown-ups so often forget to remember.
It is for this last reason that she wished instead for any young girl (or boy… or grown-up… or, lest we forget, illustrator… and More Importantly, adventurer) to imagine the Lady in every and any way possible, and, as we know, there are a great deal of those.
I myself have never met the Lady first hand. I have instead only had liaisons through the trusty witness and rag-doll, Princess Tambudzai, who (having taken a Vow of Silence) silently delivers the Lady’s letters to me on a bimonthly basis.
Some days, I like to imagine Lady Josa Pean as a pixie-haired and scruffy individual. But if this is the case, it is only because I myself am a pixie-haired and scruffy individual, and do we not all, at one time or another, fashion ourselves in the image of our adventurers (or, rather, them in ours)? For all I know, she may only ever wear blue dresses. Or perhaps, she may prefer chequered shirts and second-hand jodhpurs. Her hair may be as curly and springy as a newborn piglet’s tail (which I have been led to believe is both springy and curly, although not necessarily pink). Or it may be long and straight and knotted all the way down to her toes in a plait the colour of tangerines. But ‘For all I know’ is to say, in fact, that, emphatically, I do not know. And so I, just like you, can only imagine.
Chapter 1: The Most Important Difference
It could be said that there are many differences between books written for children, and those written for grown-ups. However, these differences do not necessarily always hold water, as they say. For instance, it could be said that the majority of children’s stories are accompanied by pictures. But any birdwatcher will tell you that there are a good many grown-up books with pictures on their pages. And then there are always the rest that lay waste to the rule, those children’s stories without a single picture save for the front cover. However, like curious Alice of rabbit-holes and looking-glasses, most children are not so partial to these sparser exceptions. (While a few unfortunate children suspect they are Too Old for picture books, and partial or not, resist them regardless to avoid any shame. And what a shame…) But in spite of the quibble over differences great and small, most are simply just that, no more than a host of differences great and small. There is only one that holds fast as The Most Important Difference … the One Rule of Thumb yet to be disproved… And it is this: be they short or long, funny or sombre, silly, sad, thrilling or downright petrifying, children’s books require a Reader and a Listener.
For all their differences, children’s books are alike in this manner. They desire (and oftentimes, quite plainly demand!) that they be Read Aloud. While one could argue that indeed, they have known grown-up books that would have been better served if they were similarly treated so, I challenge you to find a children’s book of which this requirement is absolutely not the case. This is because, well, everybody knows that children’s books are made for the tucking-in of little girls and boys the world over. They are made for sleepy eyes; for grown-up lips to read aloud, so that still-growing ones in striped and dotted pyjamas may listen, so that quieter ones closer to dreaming may stare at ceiling constellations and imagine worlds beyond four walls. This adventure is about one such book, a children’s book, and by this I mean, of course: a Reading Aloud book … and not just any Reading Aloud book, either, but the Most Mischievous Reading Aloud book of them all…