Barklem, Jill 1951-
BARKLEM, Jill 1951-
PERSONAL: Maiden name, Gillian Gaze; born in 1951; married; children: Elizabeth, Peter.
ADDRESSES: Home—Epping Forest, England. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Atheneum Publishers, 597 5th Ave., New York, NY 1017.
CAREER: Writer and illustrator.
AUTHOR AND ILLUSTRATOR
Spring Story, Philomel (New York, NY), 1980, new edition, HarperCollins (London, England), 1995.
Summer Story, Philomel (New York, NY), 1980.
Autumn Story, Philomel (New York, NY), 1980, published as Autumn Story: Primrose Meets the Harvest Mice, Picture Lions (London, England), 1995.
Winter Story, Philomel (New York, NY), 1980, published as Winter Story: A Party in the Ice Palace, Picture Lions (London, England), 1995.
The Big Book of Brambly Hedge, Philomel (New York, NY), 1981.
The Secret Staircase, Philomel (New York, NY), 1983, new edition, HarperCollins (London, England), 1996.
The High Hills, Philomel (New York, NY), 1986, new edition, HarperCollins (London, England), 1996.
The Four Seasons of Brambly Hedge (contains SpringStory, Summer Story, Autumn Story, and Winter Story), Collins (London, England), 1988, Philomel (New York, NY), 1990.
Sea Story, Collins (London, England), 1990, Philomel (New York, NY), 1991, published as Sea Story: Primrose and Wilfred Sail to Sandy Bay, Picture Lions (London, England), 1996.
The Brambly Hedge Treasury (contains The SecretStaircase and The High Hills), Collins (London, England), 1991.
The Brambly Hedge Poster Book, Collins (London, England), 1991.
Through the Hedgerow: A Three-Dimensional Pop-upBook, Collins (London, England), 1993, published as The World of Brambly Hedge, Philomel (New York, NY), 1993.
Poppy's Babies, Collins (London, England), 1994, Philomel (New York, NY), 1995, published as Poppy's Babies: Poppy and Dusty's New Family, Picture Lions (London, England), 1996.
The Brambly Hedge Birthday Book, Philomel (New York, NY), 1994.
Poppy's Wedding, HarperCollins (London, England), 1995.
Primrose's Adventure: A Sliding Picture Book, HarperCollins (London, England), 1995.
The Snow Ball: A Sliding Picture Book, HarperCollins (London, England), 1995.
Wilfred's Birthday: A Sliding Picture Book, Collins (London, England), 1995.
Winter Story Sticker Book, Collins (London, England), 1996.
Brambly Hedge: Collectors Book, R. Dennis, 1999.
The Complete Brambly Hedge, 1999.
Also author and illustrator of picture books under the name Gillian Gaze. Illustrator of the "Haffertee Hamster" books by Janet and John Perkins.
ADAPTATIONS: Some of Barklem's "Brambly Hedge" books have been recorded on audiocassette.
SIDELIGHTS: Jill Barklem is the author and illustrator of the "Brambly Hedge" stories, a popular series of picture books that features a society of humanized mice living in tree homes in rural England. Evoking the Victorian and Edwardian eras in her texts and pictures, Barklem presents her audience with a nostalgic and idyllic picture of country life. She also imbues her works with rural English tradition and family warmth and security, as each of her characters maintains an important role in the daily functionings and social well-being of the community. Barklem's series has sold millions of copies in England, and her creations have been marketed on china, greeting cards, and other products both there and in the United States.
Barklem began her career in 1974 by writing and illustrating books under her maiden name, Gillian Gaze; she also provided pictures for the "Haffertee Hamster" books by Janet and John Perkins and a series of collections of prayers and graces. During this period, Barklem also researched English customs, flora, and other geographical and cultural details for her "Brambly Hedge" stories. Her first four books, Spring Story, Summer Story, Autumn Story, and Winter Story, were published simultaneously in 1980 as individual volumes in a "miniature" format.
Spring Story introduces the field mice who comprise the community of Brambly Hedge, centering on the picnic celebration of young mouse Wilfred Toadflax's birthday. Summer Story features a wedding; Autumn Story, the search for young Primrose Woodmouse, who is lost and frightened; and Winter Story the festivities surrounding the Snow Ball at the Ice Hall. These four works were collected in the omnibus volume The Four Seasons of Brambly Hedge. School Library Journal contributor Anita C. Wilson noted that these stories of normal childhood adventures "should provide both entertainment and reassurance" to youngsters, while "the exceptional illustrations should give many hours of pleasure."
Barklem is also the creator of other "Brambly Hedge" stories, The Secret Staircase and The High Hills, which were published as full-sized volumes. The former involves the intrigue and excitement of a secret staircase and a hidden treasure discovered during preparations for the annual mid-winter celebration, while the latter is an exploration adventure in which Wilfred, in hopes of finding gold, accompanies elderly Mr. Apple on a mission of charity to deliver blankets to the voles in the High Hills of Brambly Hedge. These two works have also been published together as The Brambly Hedge Treasury. In a Growing Point review of the treasury, Margery Fisher explained that "the plots are staples of junior adventures, used with a light tone, and the packed scenes have the perennial charm of the miniature."
Many critics have noted the resemblance between Barklem's stories and those of Beatrix Potter; most of these commentators observed, however, that while Potter remained true to animal nature when humanizing the actions of her characters, Barklem has created a world of children masquerading as mice. Further comparison between the two authors has prompted criticism for what has been described as the excessive wordiness of Barklem's text and the cluttered detail of her illustrations. Despite these comments, Barklem has garnered praise from reviewers who approve of the careful detail of her pictures. Crafting her illustrations with sepia ink and watercolor, Barklem is commended for offering much for young readers to discover through the patterned china, wallpaper, and fabrics, as well as the floral arrangements and other such features, with which she invests her work. Similarly, Barklem is noted for her realistic sense of scale—for example, small blossoms make large floral arrangements for the mice—and for the authenticity of her settings. Representative of these more positive responses to Barklem's "Brambly Hedge" series is Margaret Adamson's comment in Reading Time that the author has created a "delightfully intricate little world" with "charming" stories and illustrations that are "perfectly detailed representations of community living at its best, filled with colour, warmth and busyness."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Children's Literature Review, Volume 31, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1994.
Booklist, January 15, 1981, p. 695; February 1, 1984, p. 812; March 1, 1987, p. 1011; June 1, 1991, p. 1878; January 1, 1994, p. 837.
Books for Keeps, November, 1999, review of TheComplete Brambly Hedge, p. 6.
Books for Your Children, autumn-winter, 1983, p. 3.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, March, 1984, p. 122.
Christian Science Monitor, April 17, 1987, p. 26.
Growing Point, January, 1981, pp. 3803-3806; November, 1981, pp. 3960-3961; January, 1992, Margery Fisher, review of The Brambly Hedge Treasury, pp. 5632-5633.
Horn Book Guide, fall, 1995, p. 363.
Junior Bookshelf, February, 1981, pp. 9-10; October, 1983, p. 204; August, 1993, p. 131.
Publishers Weekly, August 29, 1980, p. 365; January 29, 1982, p. 67; January 13, 1984, p. 68.
Reading Time, Volume 34, number 2, 1990, Margaret Adamson, review of The Secret Staircase and The High Hills, pp. 8, 14.
School Librarian, December, 1983, p. 348.
School Library Journal, March, 1981, Anita C. Wilson, review of Spring Story, Summer Story, Autumn Story, and Winter Story, p. 128; March, 1982, p. 128; March, 1984, p. 138; March, 1987, p. 140.
Times Educational Supplement, November 14, 1980, p. 25.
Times Literary Supplement, September 19, 1980, p. 1029.
Brambly Hedge Web Site,http://www.bramblyhedge.co.uk/ (May 9, 2004).*