I am quite good with children's books, (it's the pictures) and would love to do some of my own in my designing lifetime. I have given illustrating one a go already, but writing one takes a bit more thinking about. So, when Nicola asked me if I would perhaps do a post about this alternative children's book 'The Boy with Eyes the Size of Miami Football Stadium' by Andrew Gilmore, I thought that it was the perfect opportunity for me to learn a bit more about the genre!
Andrew Gilmore is a writer and artist based in Manchester. His fine art has been shown at venues around the UK including The Cornerhouse, while his illustrations have featured in magazines, such as Bizarre and Artists & Illustrators, and been used by bands. His first horror novel, Gate, will be published this autumn.
The main aim Gilmore wanted to achieve from his new venture was to write a children's story that didn't patronise the way many other children's books can do. You can see purely from his main inspiration for the book, director Tim Burton, that this is not going to be your ordinary children's book! When I first read it, I was recovering from a slight hangover and the pictures alone were a lot to take in! However, there is no doubt in my mind that this is exactly what many children want from a book ( I think I may just be getting a bit old).
The story, if you haven't already guessed, is about a young boy with eyes that grow VERY big indeed. Kevin Eckleburg, who is having a bad Saturday has gone to an ordinary football game in Miami Stadium with his parents. Things seem to be picking up - until he feels a twinge in his eye... Suddenly, his eyes start growing, and in a matter of minutes poor Kevin is the new owner of a gigantic pair of eyes.
These eyes grew, grew and grew... until they were the same size as the stadium, and it's up to Kevin's toys, led by his favourite bear 'Orange,' to save him from a miserable future...
The design of the book, Gilmore states, is based on Tim Burton's The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and whilst I can see the slight resemblance, I would say the book is more in a category of it's own! Gilmore, as I mentioned, has done all the pictures himself, based on the old children's cartoon Ren and Stimpy and this is exactly what it reminded me of when I first saw it! The pictures are much more striking and erratic than Tim Burton's more simple drawings, and the gruesomeness of some of the pictures is very similar to what I remember from Ren and Stimpy - the bits that all the boys at school loved! However, the randomness of the story and the underlying 'darkness' is a characteristic you can only relate to Tim Burton and I actually think that the mixture of these aspects make for it to be a more exciting read!
There is no doubt that Gilmore's artistic talents are present in everything he does, however I have to be honest in that I do not think that this is the type of book that I would sit reading in bed to my 'future' children. Now this may be because I was never a fan of Ren and Stimpy myself, it used to scare me when he got angry. The children's books I am drawn to are much more delicate. But that said, what Gilmore mentions about 'not patronising' children is something I really support and I like that he believes in his genre and I am sure that there are lots of 12 year old boys out there who believe in it too!
You don't have to just be a 12 year old boy to enjoy his talents... Just take a look at these fab 'The Boy with Eyes the Size of Miami Football Stadium' t-shirts that are available to buy here. This one here is modeled by alternative model Poppy Thorn. Who knew that eyeballs could be so stylish?
That's all for now, but I hope to be delving into other exciting and new topics soon, so keep your eyes peeled :)
Steph B x