By February 9, 2011 3 Comments Read More →

Brian Jacques, R.I.P.

Before the Harry Potter books—and after them, too—there was the Redwall series (The Sable Quean, 2010), over 20 books set in different eras and different parts of the Mossflower woods and featuring the robust cast of characters who inhabited them. Jacques’ death on February 5th (“Brian Jacques, Writer of Redwall Series, Dies at 71,” by Margalit Fox, New York Times), in his hometown of Liverpool brought back memories of a gracious man as well as a talented and prolific writer.

A number of years ago, we were together at an authors’ festival and I had the opportunity to watch him give one of his class visits. With his storyteller’s voice, he enchanted the children as talked about his writing, but he also he took the opportunity to ask the children (many of whom were dressed as his characters) their opinions about the books and what they thought should happen. His young audience was obviously thrilled as he considered their comments. He was just as inclusive with the other writers at the festival. Talking about his life in Liverpool, he said it was pure luck that his first Redwall book was published. Walking down the street, his manuscript in a shopping bag (he was reading it to children at a school for the blind), he happened to run into his old English teacher, who said he’d like to give it a read. The teacher then showed it to a publishing friend who snapped it up. Lucky for us.

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About the Author:

Ilene Cooper spends most of her day looking at, assigning, and reviewing (some) of the 7,000 children's books that are published each year in her role as senior editor at Booklist.

3 Comments on "Brian Jacques, R.I.P."

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  1. I was privileged to be at a party in New York City for a Redwall celebration a year or two ago. Jacques hugged every single woman there, and most of the men, told wonderful stories, and enjoyed every moment of it. I got to ask him why the food in his books was always so lovingly described, and he said it was because he had been hungry so often as a child. He had the perfect storyteller’s voice, booming when needed, hushed and still when he wanted you to lean in and listen.
    We will miss him and Redwall very much.

  2. bookman@eastlink.ca' David Pitt says:

    I interviewed Mr. Jacques, several years ago, for a newspaper article about one of his Redwall novels. He was a “good interview” — charming, entertaining, a lot of fun to talk to.

    Sad news.

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