Brian Jacques - a Tribute

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Sleepsong by Secret Garden.

For those of you who don't know, British children's author Brian Jacques passed away of a sudden heart attack over the weekend. His passing was a shocking blow for me. Beside believing all authors to be forever immortal, Mr. Jacques was an integral part of my early introduction to growing up into an independent, and lifelong, reader. His books were like some of the earliest Beatrix Potter tales I'd been read to as a child, except with swords.

I remember the scene clearly. I'm not sure if they still have them (I certainly hope so) but there was a school book fair at my elementary school. It came a few times a year. I don't know if it rotated or if the publishers just sent them out. That was not a part of my child-mind. All I knew was it was like magic, and I loved when it came. It also meant I would usually get books. My parents were very supportive of me reading and would usually buy me a new one if I remembered to tell them in time.

On this particular occasion, it was held in the school cafeteria (which also doubled as the auditorium and the gym). I honestly cannot remember which book I picked, but I remember Mattimeo. It was my sister's pick, and bigger than anything I had ever seen for a children's book before (this was long before Harry Potter). It was 446 pages long and in the adult, tiny print. It was terrifying. But it had mice in chains and an evil-looking fox on the cover. I held my own book, but secretly eyed hers with curiosity.

After she had finished it (and loved it) I picked it up. By the end of the first chapter I was enthralled as Orlando the Axe was following the fox after his stolen daughter. I fell in love with Matthias, the brave mouse and protector of Redwall who takes on an army of stoats and weasels to reclaim his kidnapped son and the other little ones from Slagar the Cruel. I saw parents in a different light and began to see things from their perspective, perhaps for the very first time. Indeed I loved Matthias more than Mattimeo, though Mattimeo showed me much in the way of growing up and I loved him fiercely by the end as well.

It was then I found out it was not the first in the series, and that Matthias had his own adventure. Needless to say, I was hooked. I followed Matthias and Martin the Warrior through many books before going onto other adventures in other books. I did not finish the series, but he taught me the value of bravery and what forms courage can take. He showed me how to laugh and feel strong, and in a small way he taught me how to grow up by showing me I could read bigger books than I imagined ever reading, and that was okay. They were not as scary as I thought.

So thank you, Mr. Jacques. Thank you for giving me stories of food, feasts, and fighting badgers. You will be greatly missed.


LeishaMaw said...

I love the Redwall books, too. The world is a smaller place with Brian's passing.

Thanks for bringing back my own memories of Redwall.

kaye said...

oh sad :( My daughter and I read all of the redwall books. We love them.

Paula said...

So sorry to hear the news. I too love the Redwall series.

Meg said...

Redwall was the first book that I actually loved reading in school. His books have stayed with me throughout the years.

I had the privilege of getting to hear him speak in town one time, and it was truly magical to hear him speak about his books.

Such a sad loss to the literary community.

Beverly said...

I too was saddened to hear of his passing. I love his stories and my son learned to love to read with them too. I am thrilled that the last book in the Red Wall series will be coming out in May so I will have the whole set, but am still sad that I will never get to meet him. I have tried to go to signings and have never been able to. His death will be felt by so many.