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Friday, 10 February 2017

Meg's Castle

Author: Helen Nicoll
Illustrator: Jan Pienkowski
Publisher: William Heinemann Ltd 1975, Puffin Books 1979, edition featured 2009

I think this is a 'Marmite' series, you either love these bizarre, nonsensical, bold, bright books of the 1970s Nicoll and Pienkowski Partnership, or they furrow your brow in a bad way. I love watching adults who aren't familiar with the series, try to read these to children for the first time. The series  borders on the psychedelic, with dystopic plots and a strange sort of coherence. They leave you filling puzzled and yet fulfilled. 

Cartoon witch Meg lives (in a house) with Mog the black cat and Owl, the white bird.
Together they go on an adventure or celebrate an event, usually involving making spells that go slightly wrong, always ending peacefully with the characters waving their goodbyes. The books are made up of exuberant colourful illustrations, pop-art style, and incredibly short stanza, one- six words per page normally.  There's a a lot of onomatopoeia used, mixtures of font sizes and styles, and grabbing impact words such as ' victory!' ( huge font). In Meg's castle there are interesting cultural references to the Green knight legend and St George, with snippets of rhyme and proverb thrown in for good measure, 'I'm the king of the castle.' Meg, Mog and Owl books are action-filled as well as eye catching, and are great fun to read aloud. Here's my favourite high-drama page of this title: 

The Meg, Mog and Owl series are perfect share-with stories for the 18month- 3 year old old range because these books are loud, fun and the snippets of speech, rhyme, spell are very catchy and memorable, 'call me George'! This series also comes into its own again for 3-5 year olds, with such simple sentences, making them suitable 'first readers.' I'm also finding the series quite useful to inpart the principles of comic- book writing on my 7 year old, encouraging him to add speech bubbles and sound tags to his pictures, as those techniques are abundant and effective here. Now as this series is over forty years old, it is understandable that it's somewhat of an institution, and as such, the series has a huge array of resources to support reading available online. Here's a selection: Pinterest Meg and Mog resourcesMeg and Mog WordSearch

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