As with so many people behind the art we see around us everyday, chances are, you wouldn’t recognise Michael Emberley if he sat down for a coffee at the next table to you.
If that coffee happens to be in an Insomnia mug though, everywhere you look, you’ll see Michael’s work.
From the portraits of local characters such as neighbour Paul Quinn, employee Deirdre Mallin or town wizard Albert to the long-running, occasional comic strip that Michael has been charting the staff’s adventures through over the years, the man’s work is all around you.
The best place to appreciate Michael’s work though is in the 27 books the man has published over the years. Both a writer and an illustrator, it’s in the latter role as collaborator that Michael has produced the bulk of his work, the very latest offering, Priscilla Gorilla, being yet another outing with writer Barbara Bottner. Recommended this week by The New York Times, it’s a tad frustrating that Priscilla Gorilla – or, indeed, any of Emberley’s acclaimed works – isn’t available at a bookshop near you.
“You can get them in America, no problem,” smiles the 56-year-old Boston-born, Greystones-based children’s book favourite, “but, over here, you’ll have to go online for them. Which is okay, but, it would be nice to think kids can take these books for a test ride before bringing them home…”
With Michael’s wife, Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick, also making waves in the children’s book world – her recent Owl Bat Bat Owl also getting rave reviews from the mainstream media – being happily stuck in this gleeful arrested development seems to be a family business. Something Michael and GG touched upon in our five-minute chat down at Insomnia this evening.
Well, it was supposed to be a five-minute chat, but, as so very often happens when you talk to someone who has something to say, the time just slipped away…
You can check out Michael’s work on his website here, grab them on Amazon right about here, and find out what Marie-Louise has to say about all this childlike wonder here.
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