Brian Jacques, 71, died this past weekend of a heart attack. We are in mourning here at our house. Jacques is best known for his iconic Redwall series. My older son, Jamie (now 16), was a HUGE fan of Redwall. He read every single book in the series - and re-read many of them two or three times! He so loved Jacques' masterful descriptions of the animals' feasts that he also has The Redwall Cookbook.
Although I never read any of the Redwall books all the way through myself, our whole family listened to an audio book of Martin the Warrior (part of the Redwall series) on one of our road trips. Jacques read the book himself, and we still, years later, all fondly remember his unique voice.
Jamie also loved Jacques' seafaring adventure series that began with Castaways of the Flying Dutchman and re-read all three books in the series this past fall when we went to the Caribbean. I read the first book myself - it was fast-paced and exciting.
We were fortunate to meet Brian Jacques in 2007 when he visited Delaware for a book signing. It was a last-minute thing for us - I had seen a notice of the book signing in the newspaper that morning, and we decided to check it out. Jacques proved to be an amusing and engaging speaker. He entranced the huge group of kids crowded onto the book store floor and had all of us laughing. We waited in a long line for him to sign our books, but once up there, he was not at all rushed and spent time talking to our boys and (as you can see in the photo) laughing with them.
His death is a great loss to the world of children's publishing. Here's a very nice summary of Jacques' life and his books, posted on BookPage this week. His very last Redwall book, The Rogue Crew, will be published in May 2011.