There is a very beautiful book on our bookshelf and it has changed our lives. It isn’t deep and meaningful. It isn’t a bestseller. It is Amazing Alphabetical Adventures and it was written by my husband.
In 2007, Random House New Zealand published Tony’s beloved book. It was more than just a manuscript of words. It was a book of words and intricate drawings he had lovingly and painstakingly spent every spare minute perfecting for the previous four years. The result was an ABC book designed for all ages.
For the very young, Tony’s illustrations are captivating. For their parents, the words, humour and ideas will keep you enthralled way past the ‘just one more page’ you intend to read. Read aloud, it is a book which will test the reader. Each page consists of words beginning with only one letter. For the A page, that’s not such a mean feat. But for the X page or the Z page – Tony’s sentences are smaller but still creative without wavering from his own self-imposed rule.
Amazing Alphabetical Adventures has taught me it is possible to achieve your dreams. It has taught me that if you work hard and don’t falter, if you set your sights on your goal and refuse to deviate from it, reaching that goal can become a reality. This is a book by a talented writer and illustrator, but it isn’t one which is straight forward. It isn’t an easy sell or generic sure-to-please style. But that never stopped Tony from dreaming or Random House from publishing.
After the launch party, I remember us rushing around bookstores like dizzy teenagers. There it was on the shelves! I made Tony pose for photos in front of it. A distant friend called us from an airport once – he’d seen it and bought it for his child. It had happened – Tony’s book had made its way into the world. In getting there, it had changed us both. It changed Tony into a man who believed in himself and his art. It made me fall in love with a man who inspired me and convinced me not to turn my back on creativity.
Now that Milin is two, we are watching him discover Amazing Alphabetical Adventures. It is a new journey for us all. For Tony, the book has a new life. It must be magical to watch your son fall in love with the book you wrote before he was born. The experience is, I hope, convincing Tony to dare to dream again that the next book will one day be finished.
I love watching my two boys read this book together. Milin gets lost in the drawings, he could spend hours on each page, learning more and more from the detail in the pictures and discovering more about each character as every minute passes. Tony could spend hours watching Milin explore his book. He wrote and drew it before he had children. Watching his son, he knows he got it just right.
If my own little book every makes it into print, it will be because Tony inspired me to keep writing and dared me to dream.
Happy World Book Day to you all – and happy reading!