This week has been a pretty special week for me.
It is Children’s Books Week and my little one, now nearly 3, is really into books. I feel proud and also relieved by this because when he was younger (even younger!) he wasn’t really that interested in books, his attention wandered off pretty quickly and he just literally forced me to close whatever book I had in front of him! I, of course, felt completely responsible and guilty for this, thinking maybe I should done more, perhaps I should have insisted more in incorporating books in our bedtime routine or, you know, just simply more... But hey! Life goes on and regardless I kept up with one of my favourite habits, visiting bookshops and buying real, paper and ink, non-digital, very physical and tactile, good old books! And I guess that’s paid off as he’s now really into them. I think it was the Gruffalo sound book that made it, he suddenly was happy to spend long periods of time exploring the sounds and the pictures and very quickly he started showing interest in all those ‘quiet’ books mummy had been buying and he’d been completely ignoring! Phew!! ;-)
Going back to the children’s book week theme! I think it’s so tragic that you see less and less traditional bookshop in the high street nowadays so I’m quite pleased to have a fab one just round the corner from home where I can take Tomas and have fun browsing and choosing. And we did just that, despite him being a bit unwell (poor thing he’s not immune to all those nasty viruses going around these days…) in fact, it was perfect for such a tricky day: he being unwell, the weather being a bit rubbish and cold and me needing a literary fix.
And there we were, Tomas, my other half and I looking around for new additions. We found a few lovely ones for Tomas and as I was browsing the hundreds of beautiful possibilities in those shelves I literally bumped into this intriguing one, ‘Henri’s Walk To Paris’ by Leonor Klein. No, I didn’t know the title or the author but the cover certainly rung some pretty big bells in my filmmaker memory. I mean, for any cinephile out there, this is hard to miss. The illustration is unmistakably Saul Bass, and on closer inspection it was indeed confirmed that this book’s illustrations were by Saul Bass!
He is, in my humble opinion, THE MAN when it comes to iconic film title sequences and posters. I could write a whole essay about his work and the impact he’s had in the film industry’s title sequence field (in fact, that was my original university final year thesis!) but it’s neither the time nor the place to do that! Though, in case you don’t know about his work, please check (or remember!) titles sequences such as Preminger’s ‘The Man With A Golden Arm’ or ‘Anatomy Of A Murder’ or Hitchcock ‘Phycho’, ‘North By Northwest’ or ‘Vertigo’. I mean, this is classic filmmaking at its finest!
So you probably can understand why my excitement was incontrollable, I couldn’t start studying it in detail soon enough. The illustrations are just, as one would expect, exquisite. Bold colours and shapes, incredibly elegant use of text... his signature style permeates every page and results in absolutely beautiful story telling. A sweet story about a little boy living in a small French town, who dreams of going to Paris.
Another big phew for me, it would have been disastrous had it not been great!
But how the hell did I know so much about this artist and I never knew about this side of his talents? It turns out this is his only ever children’s book illustration work, I can’t seem to find out why. It was considered a prized collector’s item and was out of print for many years until 2012, when the publication of ‘Saul Bass: A Life in Film & Design’ a priceless monograph of his life’s works, saw a huge increase in the general public’s interest and so it was put back into print. Happy days!
So there you have it. Had it not been for my lovely local bookshop I probably would have never found out about this (now treasured) book. And so many others! There is such wealth hiding on those shelves, be it in the bookshop or the library! There is nothing like a good old literary treasure hunt on a Saturday afternoon with your little one in tow.
So THANK YOU to all bookshops and libraries out there who offer such an essential resource for young and old and everything in between.
And THANK YOU Jumbo for keeping my Tomasillo’s favourite reads close at hand when one needs them!
I love you all ;-)