Today I learned that Brian Jacques died. I was in the sixth grade when I first read Redwall. I remember the awesome satisfaction of stuffing the fat paperback in my desk, carting in my backpack, bookmarking the pages. It was a book that my teacher, Mrs. Brooks, regularly gave to boys–that gender of reluctant readers–to borrow, but I remember getting my own copy from the library and devouring the pages, chunks at a time. My brother, a year younger than me, started reading them, too. Together, we collected the series–Mossflower, Mattimeo, Salamandastron, The Outcast of Redwall–in a kind of race to read as many as them as existed. I distinctly remember the day I sat in my bedroom reading one of the Redwall books for so long that when my mom called me to come down for dinner, I jumped up and my legs buckled, completely asleep. I had spent the better half of the day engrossed in the dashing heroes, bravery, feasts, humor, battles, tapestries, forests and castles of Redwall Abbey.
I also remember the time my brother and I begged my mother to buy us the latest Redwall book–The Pearls of Lutra. It was on display at the Waldenbooks I would later go to work at during high school. My mother didn’t think we needed a hardback book, but she finally caved. It was the last of the Redwall books I remember reading. I was in early high school; a fantastical series of woodland creatures fighting to save their families and their home seemed like just a phase. But when I read that Brian Jacques had passed away, it all came flooding back. How good it was to grow up in the time of these books that could totally mesmerize. There apparently was a television series made, but I have no recollection of this. I only remember the stories in the pages, the intricate covers with their valiant illustrations, and the heady feeling of finishing the last page.