Brian Jacques, a beloved children’s author, passed away on 5 February 2011. In light of this sad event, I wanted to write a brief tribute to a man whose work helped me to fall in love with the written word (I realise that this post comes a little late – had I known sooner I would’ve been more prompt).
Brian was best known for his hugely successful Redwall novels, which have sold more than 20 million copies worldwide and been translated into a total of 28 languages.
He was originally wrote Redwall for the children at the Royal Wavertree School for the Blind in Liverpool, where he worked as a milkman, and the highly descriptive prose he later became renowned for was intended to be read aloud to them.
I first discovered Jacques’s work in my school library and was immediately captured by the story. The protagonist Matthias, a courageous young mouse (who is readily identifiable for an imaginative school boy), embarks on a quest to recover the sword of Martin the Warrior in order to save his home, Redwall Abbey, from the besieging army of rats and their cruel leader Cluny the Scourge.
The richly descriptive style in which Jacques’s Redwall novels were written acts as a wonderful prompt for the imagination and I dearly treasure my memories of being whisked away to Mossflower Country by his prose, then carried along in the adventures of Matthias, Mariel and their assortment of anthropomorphised animal friends. Yet the style is only part of why I enjoyed these books so much as a child: the values of trust, friendship, courage and kindness are utterly integral to these novels and it is for that reason I enthusiastically recommend the Redwall series to any parent who is looking for a book to read to their child.
“A mouse is small and can go unnoticed: but there is no limit to what a brave heart and a fearless spirit can achieve.”
Goodbye Brian. You shall live on through your work.