Ruby, Blue and Blanket: Jane Hissey (Scribblers, 2013)
This is Jane Hissey’s first book in ten years and although in some ways a complete departure from her earlier, much loved, Old Bear stories, it is still very much a ‘Jane Hissey’ book thanks to the beautiful pencil drawings which are so real they seem three dimensional and just ready to pounce off the page into your arms.
Extract from Ruby, Blue and Blanket:
Oh, this is such a beautiful book, and one that can be enjoyed from very young (to as old as you like!) The text is written in a bouncing rhyme sharing Ruby (the mouse), Blue (the rabbit) and Blanket (the horse)’s game of dressing up. But Ruby cannot decide what to be and tries out being a fairy, a pirate, a mermaid, a spaceman…
I can’t express how much delight this fills me with. Ruby is a girl mouse but she does not choose to be a fairy, a princess and a mermaid only. She chooses all the options. And Blue Rabbit, a boy, chooses a princess costume! Because given a box of dressing up clothes, young children transcend gender stereotypes and choose whatever they want. As it should be!
I especially love how one of Blue’s stipulations in dressing up is to wear “nothing at all on my feet”. Maybe it’s just for the rhyme, but I think actually Jane knows exactly what she wants in this story and knows her audience very well. Shoes can be so horribly constricting for young children.
We follow Ruby through the book as her imagination flits from one place to another. A helmet is all that’s needed to be a spaceman; a sheet makes you a ghost. In the interview (video below) Jane talks about how she sees children in Disney Princess or Marvel Superhero costumes at the expense of imagination (company names added by me, because let’s not forget the branding!)
The interview is a must-watch in my opinion. Only fifteen minutes of your time required to hear an evident expert on children speak so much sense, and the insight into creating her books is wonderful too.
The conclusion to Ruby, Blue and Blanket is perfect and something I see in my children every time they empty the dressing up clothes over the floor (several times a day!) Why be one thing, when you can be many? Life doesn’t fit into neat little compartments, much as we try to fit our children into them. They know better!
I had only one gripe with the book, and it’s just a ‘packaging’ point. On the back of the book, there is an illustration of Blue dressed as a mermaid witch. For me, this feels a little like giving away the end of the story before you open the book but as gripes go, it’s not an issue! The text and illustrations are perfect, and we’ve read this over and over since receiving it.
The official publication date is 27th February, but you may already be able to find this in stock at your local independent bookstore. I wholeheartedly recommend Ruby, Blue and Blanket; and so do DG and MG.
Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of Ruby, Blue and Blanket by Salariya for review. No other financial reward was given and the opinions are my own. I was not asked to write this post.
Interview with Jane Hissey: