Sunday, August 22, 2010

24th August Alexander McCall Smith (1948) Matt Ottley (1962)

Alexander McCall Smith is a Zimbabwean-born Scottish writer who writes prolifically for adults and children. He is well known for several series of books for adults, in particular The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency, but he also has two series of books for children; one about Akimbo, the son of the manager of a game reserve, who has adventures with a different African animal in each title; the other about Harriet Bean, a nine year old detective who has some decidedly weird aunts and an eccentric inventor father. He has also written a children's book about Precious Ramotswe, the detective in his Ladies' Detective Agency books which is available now in Scottish, but will not be published in English until next year. It is called Precious and the Puggies and in it Precious is at school in Botswana, is eight years old and solves her first case.

In contrast, Matt Ottley is a New Guinea-born Australian illustrator who went to secondary school in Sydney. When he visits schools he tells children that he is colour blind and they are fascinated that this can be the case when Matt makes his living from art. He does books for adults and children and has won the Australian Picture Book of the Year Award for his amazing graphic novel/picture book/musical combination, Requiem for a Beast, but it is not for my young clientele. His series of three books about a dog called Faust is though. Faust is a dog with an extraordinary group of friends and to whom unusual things happen. I particularly like Ottley's picture book Mrs Millie's Painting and his illustrations for Nadia Wheatley's Luke's Way of Looking.

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