We asked the super-talented Airlie Anderson to tell us about a book she loves that hasn’t quite found its audience:
There is a couple called Mr. and Mrs. Smith, I think they’re European. There seems to be very little information about them out there, and their books are out of print. The Long Dive is a picture book from the 1970s that only my family seems to have heard of. It has elegantly simple text and beautiful, mysterious illustrations. It has a strangeness that I love to see in children’s books — a lot of it is unexplained. Why are the stuffed animals alive? How did they get to the beach? Are they breathing under water? How did they cook the fish sticks at the bottom of the sea? It leaves a lot of mysteries to be discussed and wondered about. As a kid, I would study the pictures and wonder how they could make such detail and smoothness.
The opening line is “‘Oops!’ said Barley, and fell off the cliff.” Brilliant.