Friday, 7 October 2011
I’ve got lots of happy memories of the Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington – from interviewing the Oscar-winning screenwriter Colin Welland on the front steps (see below) to visiting a Kaffe Fassett exhibition with my great aunt and watching her inspect the back of every tapestry to check how neat the stitching was.
I wasn’t planning to include children’s books in my regular Friday Book Review feature but first I discovered it’s Children’s Book Week (till October 9) and then the delightful Clara Button and the Magical Hat Day thumped on to the door mat.
The first children’s book to be published by the V&A, it’s a delight from start to finish. Charmingly illustrated by Emily Sutton and written by London College of Fashion professor Amy de la Haye, it’s the story of a little girl called Clara Button. Clara loves drawing, making things and dressing up while her big brother Ollie is more interested in skateboarding and other action boy pursuits. When a precious hat that once belonged to their granny gets torn their mother takes them to the V&A to find out how to mend it.
The pictures of some of the delights on view at the V&A – including the famous sky-high Vivienne Westwood shoes that Naomi Campbell toppled off on the catwalk – made me want to hop on the bus and revisit the museum straight away.
Best of all, the book subtly makes it clear that there’s something for everyone at the V&A. While Clara is entranced by the hats and thinks the museum looks like a palace, the more sceptical Ollie is mesmerised by hunting swords used in battle and Tipu’s Tiger, a mechanical toy made in India in 1793 which shows a tiger attacking a life-size wooden soldier.
Clara Button and the Magical Hat Day by Amy de la Haye and Emily Sutton (V&A Publishing, £10.99)