Author Jane Ray opens up Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker to young readers

Author and illustrator, Jane Ray in the new library at Betty Layward Primary School in Hackney.

Author and illustrator, Jane Ray in the new library at Betty Layward Primary School in Hackney. - Credit: Vickie Flores/Archant

The writer’s beautiful penmanship and lyrical writing will be on show when she sign books at Muswell Hill Children’s Bookshop on Saturday, says Kate Agnew.

Ham and High readers will need little introduction to talented local author and illustrator, Jane Ray.

Jane, who is acclaimed nationally for her exquisite art and delightful stories, is a firm favourite at the Children’s Bookshop where our customers love her beautiful penmanship and lyrical writing. We’re delighted therefore that Jane is going to come and sign at the Children’s Bookshop on Civilised Saturday, November 28th, a day when shoppers are encouraged to shop locally and support independent bookshops.

It’s particularly special to have Jane with us then as she has four gorgeous new books to celebrate.

In The Nutcracker, rich text and glowing illustrations recreate the story of Tchaikovsky’s much-loved ballet for a young audience. Double-page spreads depict a warm family Christmas Eve with presents round the tree and a table piled high with cakes and goodies. Then, as night falls and the Christmas tree grows, an army of mice faces the toy soldiers, glaring at each other malevolently across the page gutter till Clara and her Nutcracker Prince snatch victory and set sail together for the magical land of the Sugar Plum Fairy. Imaginative design and enchanting colours make this a book for all the family to enjoy, whether on Christmas Eve or in advance of a trip to the ballet.

Meanwhile anyone who has ever visited the extraordinary city of Venice will delight in Heartsong, illustrated by Jane and written by Carnegie medal-winning author and poet Kevin Crossley-Holland. This is a mini-masterpiece which introduces young readers to the world of Antonio Vivaldi through the moving tale of an orphan who cannot speak but possesses an extraordinary talent for music. There are still more far off lands and magical times to escape to in The Lion and The Unicorn, a rich collection of animal tales from around the world brought to life through engaging stories and captivating scratchboard artwork.

Finally, a personal favourite in the form of a reissue of Rumer Godden’s classic, The Doll’s House. This wonderful hardback novel features black and white illustrations by Jane Ray and a foreword by Jacqueline Wilson who has loved the story since her own childhood. It’s a heart-warming tale of hope and longing, of evil embodied in a wicked, china-headed doll, and of kindness and compassion in the face of difficult circumstances.

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With such a wealth of beautiful Christmas book gifts to choose from and the chance to meet the illustrator in person and get them signed, November 28th promises to be a very civilized Saturday indeed at the Children’s Bookshop.