Every year I embark on an annual migration Down Under to reconnect with my wolf pack. But these days it’s a very different journey. My flight routine – which used to consist of me happily gorging on a Toblerone, wildly leafing through a National Enquirer, before settling in for a neck jarring 8-hour kip – went right out the cabin window when Alice and Ben were born. Flying solo for the best part of two days, with two tots is sheer lunacy. So I’ve done it three times. The memory of it plays out like a slow-mo Tarantino clip. Alice – at 15 months – projectile vomiting through the galley. Me – 6 months pregnant with Ben – also projectile vomiting through the galley. A runny nosed Ben– at 12 months – stockpiling globules of sticky rice along the armrest (to the dismay of the the poor passenger beside him). And then comes that fateful call of nature, as I clamber into that tiny loo cubicle with a toddler clawed to my back and baby gripping my front – like two jetlagged koalas. It was Houdini-esque magic. The last flight ended with all three of us sobbing so loudly, and covered in so much puke, that we were met at the end of the gangway by an entourage of concerned airline staff. They commandeered a golf buggy and jettisoned us through the airport. I felt like lady Gaga. But with more vomit. Much more vomit. At baggage I dropped my suitcase on my leg, ripping the knee out of my trousers. So now, picture us coming through Arrivals, all three of us covered in bogies and barf, clothes torn, howling from the back of a golf buggy.
This is where my mind goes when I think about trips with the kids. Not pina coladas or photos of perfectly pedicured feet on white sandy beaches. More… the Walking Dead on holiday. Thankfully Marianne Dubuc creates a far more beatific image of family vacations in her book ‘Mr Postmouse goes on Holiday’. It’s simply enchanting and precisely what I’ll be aspiring for next time we fly south for the winter.
The post office is closed and Mr Postmouse is taking his family on holiday. But like so many modern day parents, he has to bring his work with him. Rather than toting a BlackBerry, Mr Postmouse is dutifully hauling his delivery cart, as “a postman never really finishes his rounds”. (He should probably have a word with his union.) But Mr Postmouse isn’t fussed and has planned an epic trip for the whiskered fivesome. A cruise ship, volcanic island, desert, jungle and so much more – it’s no jaunt to Centre Parcs that’s for sure!
Little readers will feast their eyes on Marianne’s intricate illustrations as they peer into a pint-sized world and discover little wonders tucked away on every spread. The different flavours of ice cream in the panda’s ice cream van, the tortoise lovers canoodling over dinner in the ship’s lower deck, a dog captaining a yellow submarine, or Mrs Postmouse trying on hats in the town department store… there are just so many secret storylines to explore. In fact it’s a little like poring over a modern day Janet and Allan Ahlberg (creators of Each Peach Pear Plum).
This is the sequel to ‘Here comes Mr Postmouse’ from award winning Quebec author / illustrator Marianne, who’s published several books in more than 20 languages. Her latest adventure comes to the UK from Book Island, an indie publisher focussed on unearthing and then translating unique stories from around the world. In fact just last week I reviewed another Canadian title from Book Island, Virginia Wolf. Just like Mr Postmouse, it’s one to cherish.
So next time I venture home to Oz, I’ll do my best to erase all memories of our Walking Dead approach to travel and instead replace it with the many beautiful images conjured by Dubuc in this most mouseificent of journeys.