This week I finally treated myself to Judith Kerr's Creatures: A Celebration of her Life and Work, published in honour of her 90th birthday in June. What a treasure! While this is mainly for the sheer joy and pleasure of it, I also consider it essential reading for my work (not that I feel I have to justify this purchase, though it did come at a time when I had decided to work my way through a pile of unread books I already own before buying any new ones).
It is beautifully put together, down to details such as the endpaper - I have a slight obsession with endpaper - and imbued with Kerr's humanity and warmth.
I was delighted to revisit the Mog story we had as a book when we were children, which is reproduced in its entirety - he's my favourite Creature. I hadn't looked at those pictures in years, and yet they were so familiar - it shows how intense a child's experience of a picture book is. I have a whole world of imagery from children's books nestled somewhere in my memory, and the shapes and lines and colours have become part of me.
The book is filled with Kerr's art, illustrations, sketches, photographs, notes and other memorabilia. She tells the story of her life and work herself, and I love her explanation of the title of the book, given opposite the frontispiece, a photograph of her family: "My Manx husband always referred to his parents as his creatures, so this title includes not only much-loved animals but also a much-loved family."
There are countless reasons I would love to have a cat again, and this book reminded me of one of them (see last photo above): that blissful feeling when painting/drawing/writing with a purring cat on your lap (who will occasionally decide to sit on whatever you are working on). One of the best things in life.