Another Constant Reader here at the University Book Shop has been road-testing one of the latest kids’ picture books on the shelves and just had to tell you about it:
“Booksellers love to categorise things: it helps us know what shelf to put books on. The Lilac Ladies, (Little Hare) a delightful children’s book from first time author Jenny Hughes has been put into the ‘issues’ category, which I think is a little prosaic. Perhaps there should be a children’s section simply called ‘Life’.
Four ladies make up the troupe of seemingly retired women who are packing everything into their later years, including playing bowls, sipping sodas, “bobbling in their bathers”, tango lessons, and decadent Friday high teas. They are independent women packing a lot into their week, but are sometimes in need of saving from themselves. This is where Nelly, the ‘fix-it’ friend comes in, with rules for the bowling green, a Heimlich manoeuvre for the stuck soda cherry, sunscreen at the swimming pool, and the untangling of tango mix-ups.
With sincerity and simplicity Hughes explores aging (not so) gracefully and the change that occurs when someone you rely on is no longer there. Whimsically she traverses a difficult subject matter, celebrating the memories and reminiscences that accompany loss. Jonathan Bentley’s drawings are at once sophisticated and engaging, capturing the unique spirit of each lady through clothing pattern, glasses shapes, jewellery, handbags and hair style. The colour palate is exquisite.
The Lilac Ladies has been a coincidentally timely book, with our advance copy arriving just as my children’s grandmother died unexpectedly. Alongside Margaret Wild’s brilliant Old Pig which explores the loss of a grandmother, The Lilac Ladies has helped our whole family remember to honour the memories of the special Lilac Ladies in our own life, and encourages us to live in the same high spirits as Ida, Rose, Maisie and Nelly. We’re now trying to perfect cream puffs as light as clouds for the highest of high teas!”