Merlin Dreams by Peter Dickinson

Merlin Dreams cover

I had completely forgotten about Merlin Dreams by Peter Dickinson until I came across it while Bookshelf Travelling in Insane Times, so I decided to make it my next read – before I forgot about it again! The book is illustrated by Alan Lee, I really like his work, you can see some of it here.

This isn’t really a book for children, or if it is then they are older children. It’s 167 pages long and was published in 1988.

If you know the Arthurian legends you’ll remember that Merlin was tricked by the young woman he was besotted with and the upshot was that he is entombed beneath rocks, unable to get out and there he dreams – medieval Celtic fantasies.

As you would expect the stories feature dragons, swords, unicorns, mermaids. knights – the usual Arthurian fare – entertaining reads and good for bedtime, no matter what your age, and there’s some poetry thrown in too.

Apparently the illustrator Alan Lee is well known for illustrating Tolkien books and the author Peter Dickinson is well known for his crime fiction as well as books for children.

Bookshelf Travelling in Insane Times

This week in Bookshelf Travelling in Insane Times which is hosted by Judith at Reader in the Wilderness I’m focusing on books for children (of all ages).

Children's Bookshelf

This shelf is in the smallest spare bedroom of our home and when we moved here after Jack retired I grabbed it as a sort of hobby room of my own for my stuff, which includes books and sewing/crafting materials. It is not at all tidy in fact sometimes the whole place resembles a burst cushion, but if you are a crafter you’ll probably understand how that comes about!

Anyway the shelf is home to a lot of classic children’s illustrated books – Winnie the Pooh, The Secret Garden, Peter Pan, The Wind in the Willows, European fairy tales and others.

I love Kate Greenaway’s illustrations although some people complain that her figures aren’t well proportioned. I sort of agree but they are very charming and the copy of The Pied Piper of Hamelin by Robert Browning is lovely. Apparently the book was first published in 1888 with wood block designs engraved by Edward Evans. You can see some of the Kate Greenaway illustrations here.

I also love Arthur Rackham’s illustrations. My copy of his version of Rip van Winkle which is written by Washington Irving is a delight, the colours are muted as you would expect of Rackham, but that adds to their attraction to me. You can see some of the images here.

Melisande cover

I had to buy E.Nesbit’s Melisande when I saw that it was illustrated by P.J. Lynch. I wanted it as soon as I saw the cover. I love those medieval European buildings as well as Melisande and her gorgeous flowing locks. You can see some of the illustrations here.

The Nutcracker retold by Anthea Bell has lovely illustrations, although more modern than some of the books on this shelf. The illustrations are by Lisbeth Zwerger, you can see some of her work here.

Lastly – for the moment – Merlin Dreams is a book that I haven’t read yet. It’s written by Peter Dickinson and illustrated by Alan Lee who is apparently a highly regarded fantasy illustrator. This one doesn’t have so many illustrations, it’s obviously meant for older children. Alan Lee’s work is very ethereal looking to me, perfect for this book of Celtic fantasy. You can see some of his work here