|The Charlemagne archive|
|Working drawings, draft 13 of the story, and snapshots of the illustrations|
|Left: proof of front cover; right: Korean language edition of Charlemagne|
Charlemagne the King is so rich that he has his very own zoo, with animals from the four corners of his empire.
There are bears and badgers, snakes and seals, monkeys and mice and wolves and werewolves, eels and elephants, donkeys and deer, and even a rare spotted dodo. But of all the creatures in all the world, Charlemagne’s favourite is his fat white pussy cat.
As the post-it note attached to it explains:
One day Nadia came to my house to see the latest artwork for ‘Charlemagne’. We needed some text for the ‘book within a book’ on page 17. Nadia went up to my studio, shut herself in, and within 10 minutes had written this. I really treasure this page, because of course the fat white pussy cat is my cat Diva. Unfortunately, in the illustration, Alcuin’s head obscures most of the words!
Nadia knew full well how attached my partner Shane and I were to our two cats, Dorothy Parker and Diva. She and editor Robin Morrow even encouraged my idea to include them in several of the illustrations. As the note says, it was a shame that Alcuin the librarian’s head blocks off most of the text.
Last Monday afternoon I delivered the archive to Susan Long, Librarian, Collection Development and Discovery at the State Library of Victoria. I must admit it was rather hard to part company with the Menagerie Page, despite it having gone to such a fine new home.
|The 'Menagerie page', my 'post-it note' and a photo of|
Nadia (RHS) and I with our Charlemagne teddy bears
The Greatest Treasure of Charlemagne the King was launched at Westmead Children’s Hospital in Sydney. The hospital presented Nadia and I with teddy bears dressed as King Charlemagne. (The bear who appears in the book is in fact based on Boodie, my childhood bear). From memory, the photograph reproduced above was taken by Nadia’s partner, Ken Searle.
(Click on above images to enlarge).