Scram! I’m Not Your Gran!
A virtuoso interplay of words and images in a collection of poems about remarkable old people that will delight the eye and tickle the funny bone
Children’s author Bette Westera and illustrator Sylvia Weve have taken a unique and gently anarchic approach in these vibrant and powerful portraits of twelve old people, with their snappy rhymes and eloquent images. Scram! I’m Not Your Gran! demonstrates how craftsmanship and artistry can come together to produce an imaginative children’s book that playfully combines ethics and aesthetics, emotion and humour.
How does a writer come up with an idea like that? A children’s book in which the main characters are residents of an old people’s home? And not only that, it’s a poetry collection! This is perhaps not the most obvious of choices. Fortunately there are creative and independent spirits around, like Westera and Weve, who dare to be different. A children’s bookshelf without the innovative and hilarious Scram! I’m Not Your Gran! would be incomplete.
The wit and elegance of these rhyming stories, which joyfully present life in all of its rich variety, bring to mind the work of Annie M.G. Schmidt and are a high point in Westera’s writing career.
The link between the past and the present is a particularly striking element of this book and lends an extra dimension to each of the poems. Behind each portrait of an old person, an ingenious system of fold-out pages conceals a portrait of their younger selves, so that you know ‘Mrs Van Veen from room number one’, ‘Mr Van Bemmelen from room eight’ (‘who’s as ugly as hate’) and Mr Zeybek from Turkey were all young once and dreamed of love and romance, successful careers, or a large brood of children.
Illustrator Weve has also outdone herself in this book and was clearly motivated by a desire to experiment. The resulting illustrations reveal her background in graphic design. Using bold shapes and thirty different colours of ink, Weve has created artistic fold-out pictures that feature complete life stories in beautifully designed compositions and colour combinations. Humour is always present throughout this book too, as Weve employs her trademark over-the-top style.
In short, Westera and Weve, who have previously collaborated to great effect, inspiring each other to artistic heights, have delighted their readers once again with this magnificent, superbly designed book.