April 19, 2018

The Complete Brambly Hedge by Jill Barklem

Some time in the late 1990's I had come across a stop motion television program about a hedgerow community of mice. It was not particularly enjoyable so I didn't look into the books. Decades later, I came across Brambly Hedge once again but this time in book form. I was amazed; it was so different than I had remembered. It was so much better! If these books had been made for television using traditional animation or CGI, I probably would have found it more entertaining. The stop motion technique is really stiff and unfitting when the story revolves around quick moving rodents.

The Complete Brambly Hedge is written and illustrated by Jill Barklem (1951-2017). Barklem studied illustration at Saint Martin's School of Art in London, United Kingdom. It is during her commute to school there that she first conceived the world of Brambly Hedge. She spent five years researching prior to writing her first story and it is also her interest in natural history that makes her illustrations so accurate and detailed. Her illustration style resemble that of another British artist whose work I am fond of, Cicely Mary Barker. Barklem's paintings are however, superior, being a lot more detailed and with more variety of subject matter. Some of the best illustrations in this book are of the tree interiors. These are the homes and buildings of Brambly Hedge where the mice live and work. They have multiple rooms and tunnels; some are cozy and some are extravagant. There are a lot of pictures in this book, almost filling every page.

The Complete Brambly Hedge is a collection of eight stories: Spring Story, Summer Story, Autumn Story, Winter Story, The Secret Staircase, The High Hills, Sea Story, and Poppy's Babies. I prefer all the stories in one book as it saves space but these are published separately as well with slip cases for the newer sets. The book presented here is the 2011 edition. The text is large and the paper has a good weight. The stories are sweet and written with a child's view of the world set in the countryside. There is no danger of predators, the mice live idyllic lives. Each individual story reading length is about five minutes.

The Brambly Hedge series of books, first published in 1980, have sold over seven million copies worldwide and the characters have also been produced as collectible pieces. Recommended for ages 4+.

Amazon | Book Depository
HarperCollins 2011
Hardcover 248p
7.5" x 10.1"
Brambly Hedge Cover Jill BarklemBrambly Hedge Winter Story Warm KitchenBrambly Hedge Lady Daisy looking for PrimroseBrambly Hedge Dusty heading to workBrambly Hedge the river bankBrambly Hedge Tree HomeBrambly Hedge SuppertimeBrambly Hedge Making blankets

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