A Toast to Brian Jacques:
When I was a little kid, I was a picky eater. Seriously picky. If it had an ugly color, mushy, looked like a vegetable, didn't taste like sugar, I wouldn't eat it. If it wasn't prepared by a television clown or came with a piece of plastic toy I would fight my parents tooth and nail not to eat it. As a result, I was a tubby little kid who got picked last for sports.
Then I got introduced to Redwall. If you've never read the books, every book contains at least one elaborate feast. I read as Jacques painted a mosaic of flavors, aromas, spices, and textures. I found my mouth watering about things like mushrooms and onion leeks, crusty flour pocked nut breads, syrupy cherry cordials, candied scones, shrimp and hot root soup, roast greyling, a menagerie of healthier more wholesome foods that if presented to me a day before I would have rejected out of hand. I asked my parents to let me try some of these dishes and, whether it was because I finally had an open mind or I just hadn't ever tried these things before without a fight, I found myself digging in with gusto.
There were a lot of lessons I took away from his books but when I look back at the tubby kid I used to be and the quick, light, and strong healthy eater I am now, I can't deny that Jacques caused a turning point in my life. He taught me not to prejudge on appearances and that the open mind is rewarded.
May you be greeted at the gates of the dark forest Mr. Jacques, the world is a better place because you were in it.