• NZ Booklovers

When I Was A Child by Andy Stanton & David Litchfield


There is magic in everything. The world is a spinning star, no matter how old you are.


This visually stunning book is a celebration of the special bond between a grandparent and child as they share the magic, joy and love in the world, both past and present. This book brings together two of the most exciting talents in children's books – author Andy Stanton and illustrator David Litchfield.


The book begins with a grandmother reminiscing about the magic of her childhood, and how the magic has shrank away since then.


Emily, the granddaughter, then takes her grandmother’s hand and shows her how magic really is still everywhere. You just have to look for it.


Litchfield’s illustrations are absolutely stunning. The page where the grandmother bemoans the loss of magic is rich in detail and tells the story by picture alone. Vibrant colours, bold designs and mythical structures fade to black and grey industrial scenes. He’s also subtly but rather cleverly aged the grandmother – showing her loss of childhood innocence and wonderment.


As Stanton himself says, he knows how to write funny (Mr Gum, Here Come’s the Poo Bus). When he wrote the opening lines of When I Was A Child it was all heart.

“I always try to write with heart, and I think that’s the secret of Mr Gum’s success. But it seemed that when I wrote something that was all heart, without the crazy, silly stuff to disguise it, no one was all that interested,” he told Booktrust UK.


He struggled to get any publishers interested in his poem, before approaching Hachette’s Anne McNeil who encouraged him to finish the book.


It is fortunate that she did. It is a simple, yet stunningly beautiful book with a very strong message. In a world where we are forcing our children to grow up quicker than their years, When I Was A Child brings some of that immense imagination and creativity to the fore. It is however, not a story solely for the children. It will inspire adult readers to take a step back and reflect on their own self too. Because really, the world is a spinning star, no matter how old you are.


Reviewer: Rebekah Fraser

Hachette NZ, RRP $19.99

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