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This issue’s cover shows Neil Gaiman (photo © Kelli Bickman) with his book The Comical Tragedy or Tragical Comedy of Mr Punch illustrated by Dave McKean. Neil Gaiman is interviewed by Nicholas Tucker. Thanks to Bloomsbury for their help with this November cover.
Simmons’s bright gouache and watercolour paintings, enlivened by interesting brushwork, introduce the story of Mousse and Nut, two very different dogs who, nonetheless, are great friends. When they are together everything is wonderful, the pages crowded with larger than life activity, until the day when each decides he’d rather do his own thing. Then the two dejected friends sit in their separate kennels, each alone on a page. At last they realise that friends can do different things, together, and the sun shines once more.
Despite her popularity I find Simmons’s illustration inconsistent, its beautiful skyscapes and flashes of brilliant characterisation of Nut ill at ease with the cruder picturing of Mousse and the chaotic nature of some pages. Her text, though clear, is unexceptional: those other great pals of literature, Frog and Toad, or David McKee’s Two Monsters, give a stronger, less overt but more profound, picture of the strength of true, forgiving friendship. AG