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Posted at 10:44 AM ET, 02/11/2011

Brian Jacques dies; Redwall realm creator was 71

By T. Rees Shapiro

In the 1980s, Brian Jacques was a door-to-door milk truck driver in Liverpool and its suburbs. One of his delivery stops was the Royal Wavertree School for the Blind.

He became friends with the children there and offered to read them stories, but he became frustrated with the "dreadful" literature on hand.

"I thought, 'What's wrong with a little bit of magic in their lives?' " said Mr. Jacques, who died Feb. at 71.

He decided to create a world where noble mice - and hares and squirrels and shrews - battle a one-eyed rat and his horde of weasels, stoats and foxes for control of Redwall Abbey and the surrounding Mossflower countryside.

Some critics, and concerned parents, found Mr. Jacques' books to be too violent for young minds.

"Try readin' the bible," Mr. Jacques would say in response. "Life is not all a Disney movie with singing teapots."

At one book signing, a young boy named Thomas approached Mr. Jacques and asked him why a central character in one of his novels had to die.

"You see, Thomas," Mr. Jacques said, "the people you love sometimes die. But if you really love a person, even if they do happen to die, you never really lose them if you carry them in your heart."

Later, Mr. Jacques was told by a bookstore clerk that the boy's mother had recently died.

"Perhaps, in some way," Mr. Jacques said, "the books helped him."

If you have any memories of Mr. Jacques please leave them below.

Also, feel free to discuss which of Mr. Jacques' books was your favorite. Personally, I could not put down "The Long Patrol."

By T. Rees Shapiro  | February 11, 2011; 10:44 AM ET
Categories:  T. Rees Shapiro  | Tags:  Brian Jacques, Liverpool, Redwall, The Long Patrol  
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Comments

Martin the Warrior was my favorite

Posted by: bkittrel | February 11, 2011 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Mariel of Redwall was the first Jacques book I read, and it remained my favorite as I worked through the others in the series. Mr. Jacques kindly signed my copy for me when I was about 10. He will be missed.

Posted by: js722 | February 11, 2011 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Legend of Luke was the most epic for me.

Posted by: cdurand1405 | February 11, 2011 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Sad, I read the first 3 or 4 books in the series about 20 years ago and really enjoyed them at the time. I even had a pet bird that I named Warbeak... RIP.

Posted by: ozpunk | February 11, 2011 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Redwall books lit up my life as a kid. I was lucky enough to see Brian Jacques once. He came to the Bailey's Crossroads Borders store, and my dad and I went. I was in middle school. I remember laughing a lot as he spoke. I also remember he wore a brace on his wrist because doing so many signatures had given him carpal tunnel.

I got a signed copy of The Legend of Luke. Funny, my husband and I chose to name our first son (5 months old now) Luke. Maybe my fondness for that name originates with Redwall.

Another great memory--when I was 9, I was in a kid's summer book club at a Zany Brainy store in Springfield. We read a couple Redwall books, and for our end of summer party, we had a Redwall style feast! My best friend and I dressed up and my mom made Golden Summer Punch for me to contribute. I also made a pretty fabulous diorama (sp?) of a Redwall feast for the occassion.

Rest in Peace, Brian Jacques. Thank you for everything you did for literature.

Posted by: indanoel | February 11, 2011 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Spent many enjoyable hours in the car with our kids listening to recordings of Mr. Jacques reading his books. One of them even inspired the name of our third cat - Tris.

Posted by: RogerGoldleader | February 11, 2011 1:41 PM | Report abuse

I was so sad to hear he had passed! I remember that the Redwall series was one of my favorites as a child. My first was Mossflower, but my favorite was Mariel of Redwall...or the Bellmaker. I re-read them over this past summer because I was visiting my parents and found the series that I had left at home. I took them back here with me and just devoured them. They are wonderful books, and I can't wait to read them to my children.

Posted by: Jenna587 | February 11, 2011 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Jacques provided many magical hours for my children The nine hour car trips seemed much shorter when the Redwall tapes were playing.

Posted by: JPZenger | February 11, 2011 3:28 PM | Report abuse

My favorite was the first of his books I read, Martin the Warrior. I remember liking Muriel of Redwall particularly, too.

I loaned most of my Redwall books out to a friend of mine and we both read them after the other in later middle school.

Posted by: forget@menot.com | February 11, 2011 4:12 PM | Report abuse

"I loaned most of my Redwall books out to a friend of mine and we both read them after the other in later middle school."

That should read, "mid-to-late elementary school." Teach me not to proofread... :)

Posted by: forget@menot.com | February 11, 2011 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Mossflower! I had every Redwall book as a kid and wouldn't let anyone near my collection. Recently found out my mom passed them on to a friend's son, couldn't be happier! Jacques always made me hungry with those feasts!

Posted by: ZeroHero0 | February 11, 2011 4:50 PM | Report abuse

I had the honnor of meeting him in person when Triss came out in the US. I deeply loved the books and I grew up reading them. He will be deeply missed...

Posted by: jasonfrankiewiczpalchak | February 11, 2011 6:46 PM | Report abuse

Lord Brocktree was my favorite.

I met Mr. Jacques after a 480 mile trek to Lafayette, IN back in 2002. Total of a 29 hour trip. It was such a delight to meet him and hear him read from his newest book. We were also the last to leave and was able to speak to him after the event was over. He was kind enough to take a few minutes with us. I also gave him a chainmail bookmark with a red R in the middle I had woven on the way up to the event.

I am reading/ listening to The Sable Quean right now. Glad I will be able hear Mr. Jacques voice on the recordings of the books he loved to write.

Posted by: whtbearfan | February 11, 2011 8:00 PM | Report abuse

I grew up reading the Redwall series. Really they defined a large part of my childhood. I spent hours reading the books and playing Redwall outside with my neighbors. In a few months I'm going to graduate from college, but I still enjoy reading them and they will always have a special place in my heart. I was so sad to hear the news that Brian Jacques passed away. Through his books he has truly made a great impact in many people's lives and I'm sure his legacy will live on for many, many years to come.

Posted by: ekrieger7 | February 11, 2011 11:24 PM | Report abuse

I was in college when the Redwall books began coming out, and I believe I'll get one off the shelf behind me and start re-reading in honor of Mr. Jacques!

Posted by: CherieOK | February 14, 2011 8:52 AM | Report abuse

I started reading the Redwall books to my daughter when she was about 4 years old. It was an evening ritual. over 7 years, we read all of his books and couldn't wait for each new installment I would read them to her aloud and when she was older, we downloaded them from Audible.com. Those recordings were narrated by Jacques himself along with an ensemble that included members of his family. She listened to them the way other kids listen to music. Her vocuabulary, her love of narrative, her imaginative vision were fed by his wonderful prose and fatherly voice.

We had tickets to hear him speak at the DMA in May; it was her birthday present. She does not know yet and I dread telling her. She will be crushed and I'm heartsick.

My best wishes and sympathy to all his family and friends.

Thank you Mr. Jacques. You'll be sorely missed.

Posted by: AdamtheIA | February 17, 2011 9:54 AM | Report abuse

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