Illustrated by Christian Birmingham
"Years ago / there was a little boy / who had the solar system on his wall. / Late at night he'd lie in bed / with Rabbit / and they'd watch the planets / spinning round the sun..."
As it says in the book That little boy was me. It sounds strange now but if you were a small boy in 1969 you were either obsesed with the space travel or you were living in a cave on Rockall.
When I was living in America in 1997 a friend bought me Billy Bragg's latest CD, William Bloke. It included a song The Space Race is Over ("I lay in my bed and dreamed I walked / On the Sea of Tranquility"). I sent a copy to Billy. Six months later I got a copy of his next single and a very kind postcard thanking me for the book and reminding me to make sure I had a postal vote for the forthcoming election (ah, the hopes we had...). Before Curious I had written to a number of artists, writers and performers whose work I loved. He was the only one who ever wrote back. So he will always have a place in my heart.
Christian's illutrations are wonderful. But, for me, the eeriest thing about them is that the picture of the boy's mother is, quite by chance, the spitting image of my own mother in 1967.
The original of one of the double spreads now hangs outside our son's bedroom. Consequently, I think about this book almost every day.