When we decided to go to Pictiur at the Irish Museum of Modern Art this morning, I did fantasise about seeing one of the artists there. Artists do visit their exhibitions, I think. But when I passed the man on the stairs with the cowboy moustache, I just thought, "It must be a cool thing now, amongst arty folk, to cultivate an Oliver Jeffers moustache." Until I thought, "OH MY GOD. That IS Oliver Jeffers." I was going to turn back and catch him before he left, to ask him to pose for a photo with my kids but the chances of them saying "Who?" "What favourite book?" "Do I have to?" "When can we go to the gift shop?" were high. And also, I felt too embarrassed to tap him in the shoulder. He must be sick of people doing that. But I wish I had! Oh well.
On another note, Pictiur is in the IMMA cafe and just beside the gift shop, which to my mind is the absolute worst place to place an exhibition aimed at children. It just meant I spent the whole time saying "No, we are not buying anything" over and over and over again. And this morning, the smell of soup was overpowering.
When I stopped fuming about the location and the soup and desperately regretting not saying hello to probably the most famous, fantastic author of children's books I will ever have the chance to meet, I noticed the Ignis drawings.
We know Ignis very well. Written by Gina Wilson and illustrated by P.J. Lynch, I found this book in about 2008, and when I did, I was thrilled. My second son was mad about dragons and believe it or not, there was a time when it was not that easy to find a kids book with dragon characters. When it comes to dragon books, this one is just about perfect.
Ignis is a young dragon who cannot yet blow fire. He tries and tries but has no luck. His friend Scintilla and sister Flamma are encouraging but they can offer nothing but kindness. (Aren't they the most beautiful names?) His Gran-dragon advises him not to panic, it will come. Look at the expressions on the faces. Look at all the illustrations. So lush and so lovely.
He visits his friends Poto, the hippopotamous, Loquax the Parrot and Cara, the little girl, but alas they are good friends but not dragons, and cannot help.
And just when it seems like there is no hope for Ignis,"the very last spark from the volcano's very last eruption, one hundred years ago , came wandering out into the open, weak and wavering and looking for something to light."