Thursday, 16 February 2017

Angie the Brave

Welcome to the shadowy and not-so-shadowy space behind Sally's books. If you're not familiar with this blog, scroll down to see what it's all about.

Angie the Brave (Post 47)

Angie the Brave (1987) was (I think) my third or fourth published picture book. It was vaguely based on exploration games my sister and I played as children, which were in turn vaguely based on books we'd read by Arthur Ransome and Patricia Wrightson.

When we went out and about by the river, or picking blackberries, or building "places" among the willow trees, we were really explorers. We made up narratives as we went, which is something quite a lot of writers do as children.

According to the text, Angie is an explorer, who catches sharks, wrestles a snake, fends of a dragon and stalks Bedouin. According to the illustrations, Angie is a small girl enjoying a beach-shack holiday. I remember writing two versions of this story. One was in prose, and the other in rhymed metrical verse with a refrain. The editor I offered them to chose the rhymed one. The original title was Doing What Explorers Do, but this title was deemed too cumbersome, so it became Angie the Brave. I was lucky enough to sit down with the publisher/editor and the illustrator on this one which is exceedingly rare in my experience. The illustrator had some roughs to show, and one of them I remember had Angie eating her dinner with "friendly savages, who seemed to like her too... and then she made a treasure map: explorers always do." 

The picture showed the "savages" were Angie's mum and dad. In the picture, Angie and her dad sat at the table while Mum took a dish out of the oven to put on the table. The illustrator and I were both female, and both married. I had children. I don't remember if the illustrator did or not. The publisher was male, and it was he who found this picture not acceptable. The illustrator and I, both self-employed in the arts, had no problem with it. 

The final illustration shows Dad taking the food out of the oven. This was 1986. Both the illustrator and I were well accustomed to sharing cooking and serving food with our husbands... however, we both did the serving more than 50% of the time. It just never occurred to us this could be a problem.

Thinking back, I wonder how Angie the Brave would fare now. Would there be problems that Angie is shown with a fishing net in the swimming pool? Would Angie's game of tug of war with a dog be considered dangerous? Would her stalking game with the people on the beach be unacceptable? She's barefoot... what might she step on? And what about that food, which was possibly a pie... (I'm unsure, and don't have the book here to check.) Anyway, Angie has been out of print for quite a while, but I found nine copies for sale just now after visiting just two sites (abeBooks and eBay) so the irrepressible explorer is still out there!

Then down the road went Angie, exploring as she went...
About the Blog

Sally is Sally Odgers; author, manuscript assessor, editor, anthologist and reader. (Sally is me, by the way, and I am lots of other things too, but these are the relevant ones for now.)

The goal for 2017 is to write a post a day profiling the background behind one of my books; how it came to be written, what it's about, and any things of note that happened along the way. If you're an author, an aspiring author, a reader or just someone who enjoys windows into worlds, you might find this fun. This preamble will be pasted to the top of each post, so feel free to skip it in future.

The books are not in any special order, but will be assigned approximate dates, and pictures, where they exist.


  1. Thanks for sharing these backgrounds - I'm going to hunt down a copy of this one.

  2. It's quite interesting going back through my writing life:-)


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