A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.
I have always loved libraries.
I loved first library my mother took me to where we rummaged through racks of picture books to find new bedtime reading.
I loved the library at my University – a vast basement packed with row upon row of old books and journals on all subjects you could imagine. You could lose yourself among those shelves.
I love my local library – it’s clean and new, all windows and glass and of course – books everywhere.
I have been in many libraries and are all just as wonderful, just as exciting. But there is one library that tops all of these. And this is my father’s library.
You see, some people collect stamps, or coins, or porcelain. But my father collected books.
He was in love with second hand bookshops – we never walked past one without popping in. My childhood resonates with the smell of old leather and paper; the shelves stacked high with old volumes. These shops were a treasure trove, and my father never left empty handed. He put up shelves around the walls in his study and it was soon lined, floor to ceiling, with books. I loved it there as much as I loved exploring these old shops.
In those days it was quite easy to find first editions, and books bound in leather with gold embossed covers. They cost pennies and I watched as his collection grew. He had studied classics and beautiful leather bound copies of Plato and Catullus (among others – many in Latin or Greek) are rowed along one of the walls. Then it was the Victorian novelists – beautifully embossed covers and children’s books with gorgeous illustrated plates. I remember he went through a phase of collecting novels by Hall Caine and these take pride of place alongside his desk.
There are the quirky books – the oddities. A Victorian nature guide written by a gentleman who was clearly fond of shooting, a bible in Hungarian and another in ancient Greek, And then there are the books that he bought quite simply because they looked interesting or were something he wanted to read; thrillers, adventures, stories of heroes and other worlds – his reading tastes were surprisingly varied!
I’ve found some treasures in this library – authors I would never have otherwise discovered, books I would never have read.
Whenever I visit my mother I go into the library. My Father’s desk sits by the window, rolling hills and fields beyond, and the books sit waiting – waiting for someone to dust then down and leaf through their pages. Waiting to be read. I can think of no better way to spend a couple of peaceful hours doing just that. I read his books and think of him. His books are his legacy.
By day Kate Kelly works as a marine scientist but by night she writes SF thrillers for kids. Her debut novel Red Rock, a Cli-Fi thriller for teens, inspired in part by her fascination with the sea, is published by Curious Fox and a collection of her short stories, The Scribbling Sea Serpent, is now available. Kate lives in Dorset with her husband, two daughters and assorted pets.