Everyone of us has beloved childhood authors. These are the inspirational people, whose stories have influenced us, and passed a lesson. One of mine is the late Belgian children´s books writer and illustrator Marcel Marlier. I was only four years old when I had his wonderful books, and I was completely captivated by his illustrations. Now, twenty years and countless read books later, they are still the most beautiful drawings I have ever seen.
Jean Lou et Sophie au jardin, Marcel Marlier (1949)
Some years ago, I had a flashback of the stunning illustrations and stories of Marlier and how much they have influenced me when I was a kid – I loved going through the books every time I was back in my childhood room in Bulgaria. I decided I wanted to write him a thank you letter! Only to find out that I was late.
Lately, my mind had raced back to his incomparably beautiful drawings and stories again, and I researched and found some of his illustrated books on Amazon in French. Crazy as I am, I impulsively bought quite a few (I don’t even speak French!). Then I thought that I still wanted to write that letter. If I cannot send the letter to Marcel, then I would send my gratitude to the universe, hoping it might pass the message to him.
Read books and let them inspire you. If you have kids – buy them books, not just toys. Books shape and change our lives, even (or especially?) when we are kids. As a last note – if someone is a great source of inspiration to you, always make sure you let them know.
To Marcel Marlier
I will be forever thankful to my fantastic mum for buying me your books! I was four years old when my mum and I read together Jean-Lou et Sophie Decouvrent La Mer – the first book of yours that I had. How amazing it was! I could not take my eyes of it. I literally did not want to go to bed without this book next to my pillow. I could hear the waves, see the castles made of sand, feel the sea breeze. I was part of their adventure, and they were part of mine. I felt contented and at peace.
Your illustrated books were the most valuable thing I owned! You helped me see the world through magical lenses thanks to the adventures of Jean-Lou et Sophie. I read and loved so many books when I was little – I was such a curious kid, but your stories and illustrations left the deepest mark. I saw myself so much in your Jean-Lu and Sophie, that I felt as if you were writing about me. I was living your stories every day! They inspired me to seek adventures even in the most ordinary days. You made my world a fairy-tale on Earth, even though there was nothing explicitly magical in the supernatural sense that you wrote about. You taught me how to enjoy every moment, to admire the small things in life, and be grateful for them.
My books of Jean-Lou and Sophie were translated in Bulgarian, but they had kept the original characters’ names in French. I found out recently, though, that the English version of the books are called “Mark and Michelle”. As much as I disliked such adaptation (they will always be Jean-Lu and Sophie for me!!), part of me secretly felt even closer to your stories, as in the English version, they had named the girl after me.
Thank you for everything, you will be remembered!