Every time I come to write something about Quentin Blake I find myself at a loss how to describe him. How do you offer a comment on someone of his stature in the world of illustration and children’s picture books and it not sound paltry, cliched or sycophantic? What are we supposed to call him? The ‘divine’ Quention Blake? The ‘genius that is’ Quentin Blake? The spectacularly talented Quentin Blake? All of the above? After some consideration I think I’m going to stick with the ‘incomparable’ Quentin Blake on the basis that he probably is. Ok. Here we go. This then, Angelica Sprocket’s Pockets, is another offering from the incomparable Quentin Blake and was (I think) published in 2010.
It’s a simple premise but full of well-mined potential. Angelia Sprocket has pockets galore, and in them she keeps a collection of ever more bizarre and unlikely things.
We start with mice, cheese and hankies and fairly quickly graduate from car horns to cutlery and ice-cream to elephants. Of course none of these things would fit into the pockets on Ms Sprocket’s coat; she has many pockets but they do not seem particularly capacious and therein lies the humour and absurdity.
A few additional bits of cleverness make this even better. Obviously the illustrations are superb, you could hardly expect anything else, but the placement of lines is also very good.
There’s a pocket for skateboards
(just look at those skaters!)
and another pocket for
occurs on one page, flanked by pictures of skateboarding children, and the punchline is not delivered until you turn to the next page.
That’s pretty funny.
The other feature is the strange, meandering rhyme scheme. It rhymes, but it does so after long, seemingly endless lines that disrupt the rhythm and in a way act like something being pulled out of these eponymous pockets.
There’s a pocket for ice cream
and all kinds of nice things to drink.
There’s a pocket for saucepans and frying pans and buckets and spoons and forks and cheesegraters and
the kitchen SINK.
It’s great. It’s simple, effective, brilliantly and wackily illustrated, a pleasure to read, surprising on several pages, funny and original – what can I say. Incomparable.