Chris Wormell is perhaps best know for his distinctive illustrative style, but he has also created several picture books and now, a novel – the rather wonderful ‘The Magic Place.’ Make sure you read Chris’s special piece about the places he used to escape to as a child and how they inspire his writing.
‘And even though she only saw it in her dreams, she felt sure it was real.’
Clementine works as a slave in TheGreat Black City for her wicked aunt and uncle. But she dreams of a magic place, and she’s determined to escape and find it. With the help of a very clever cat (Gilbert – her best friend) she sets off on an adventure that might just make her dreams come true.
‘Places I Escape To’ by Chris Wormell
Basically, for Clementine’s Magic Place, I needed somewhere as far removed as possible from the dark, damp cellar in the middle of the great black grimy city where she is trapped. The perfect antithesis seemed to be a wild, windy place of mountain and moor. Such places were certainly the places I dreamt of escaping to as a child. Not that my childhood was anything like Clementine’s. On the contrary, I had a wonderful time; I had five brothers and three sisters, so, unlike Clementine, I was very rarely alone – and definitely never bored! But I was a bit of a dreamer.
My parents were far from rich and so, with such a large family, holidays usually involved camping – which we children loved, though I’m not sure how relaxing my parents found it. One year, however, a friend of my father’s offered our family his second home for a week in the summer. That was the first of many memorable holidays in the sixties and seventies. The house was an ancient farmhouse at the end of a long, gated track halfway up a welsh mountain, and like Clementine’s Magic Place, was, to us, somewhere as far removed from London as we thought it possible to be. A paradise, where we climbed mountains, explored forests and swam in icy streams for a week, almost never seeing another soul, but for the shepherd with his sheep dogs. The house was called Prys Clwyd, and though I did not consciously use it as the model for the ‘little grey house at the end of a winding road’ I’m pretty sure it is that house.
I still dream of escape – I’m still the dreamer I always was of course. So, when I do escape from London for a week every summer I’m drawn to the wilder extremities of Britain, the places that held my imagination as a child. A few years ago, we escaped to the far north of Scotland. The following year it was the Outer Hebrides. Next, came Orkney and then last year the plan was Skye. Sadly, events intervened. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for this year!
Chris’s childhood escapes sound truly magical – I can see how they have inspired his writing as an adult. There is definitely something special about the wild and rugged parts of this country. I hope Chris manages to take a trip to Skye this year!
A wonderful tale of escape, hope against the odds and the meaning of home. 9+
*Many thanks to David Fickling Books for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour*