International Children’s Book Day is happening on the 2nd of April and will be hosted by IBBY Ireland this year. The 2nd of April was Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday and so the event often centres around his work. A number of Irish children’s authors have collaborated on a rewriting of Andersen’s tales entitled Shoes, Ducks and Maids of the Sea – Retellings of Hans Christian Andersen. This collection will feature stories by Sarah Webb, Oisin McGann, Siobhán Parkinson, Paula Leyden, Deirdre Sullivan, Claire Hennessy, Sheena Wilkinson, Anna Carey and many more! This e-book and IBBY Ireland’s new website http://www.imaginenations.ie will be launched at an event tonight.
As well as arranging a number of events during the day for children and adults, the host country is also responsible for the poster for the day and for selecting an author to write a message to the international community of child readers. The poster for 2014 was designed by the current Laureate na nÓg Niamh Sharkey and is very colourful, featuring one of her loveable monster characters. Former Laureate na nÓg Siobhán Parkinson wrote the letter, which can be read here.
“Without the writer the story would never be born; but without all the thousands of readers around the world, the story would not get to live all the lives it can live.”
To coincide with this event, the TCD Library display cases are showcasing a variety of collections of Hans Christian Andersen tales from the collection. There are many beautiful books on display, and I’ve just picked out a couple to show here.
The first is W Heath Robinson’s illustrations for a collection of Andersen’s tales published in 1913. I loved the two pages shown in the display, the detail is amazing and the contrast between the full colour image and the black and white illustration show the range of his style. The colour image illustrates The Snow Queen and the sumptuous colours and rich fabrics reflect her wealth. The black and white image is much starker, but the night sky is incredible and the skilful drawing is seen more clearly here.
One of my favourite illustrators P.J. Lynch is represented with his illustrations for The Snow Queen. The pages shown depict Gerda travelling to the Snow Queen’s kingdom, and the depiction of the Northern Lights is stunning. It captures the adventurous spirit of the story really well, and the sky really seems to shimmer. It is a mesmerising image!
Check out the blog post about International Children’s Book Day and the TCD display on the library blog here.
My personal favourite Andersen tale is The Snow Queen. The illustrations for this tale are usually fantastic, capturing the majestic figure of the queen herself and the stunning landscapes crossed during Gerda’s epic quest. The reason why I love this story is how empowered the heroine is. Gerda goes on an incredible journey to save her best friend Kai from the cruel Snow Queen and is one of the bravest and most active fairytale heroines out there. Andersen wrote a number of very well-known tales, including The Ugly Duckling and The Little Mermaid (the original tale has a shockingly tragic ending). The fact that International Children’s Book Day, celebrated by 76 countries, is held on his birthday is a testament to the enduring appeal of his work.
I wish you all a very happy International Children’s Book Day, wherever you are and whatever you’re reading!