Title: Sellotaping Rain to my Cheek
By: Daniel Cockrill
Illustrated by: Tony Husband
Publisher: Burning Eye Books
I must admit- I wasn’t overly enthusiastic about reading this book when I first saw it. Tony Husband’s illustrations, although loved by many, don’t exactly click with my head. I do enjoy some simple cartoons- Spike Milligans’ ‘Treasury of Children’s Stories’ ensured that the style was entrenched in my brain right from childhood. Yet somehow Husbands cartoons trigger all kinds of negative stereotypes in my head- they seem to remind me of everything that is ugly in the world (although I was later to discover that this is part of the point of them). Nevertheless, I have never allowed myself to judge a book by its cover, so I began to read. And I was very glad I did.
Cockrill’s writing and Husband’s illustrations feed into each other throughout- it is obvious that the two of them worked together right from the formative stages. This isn’t a book created by one of them looking at the other’s work and responding to it. As a result the book is not a dialogue between them, but instead a precisely formed world-view.
Desperation is the definate main theme of the collection. Even the title (‘Sellotaping Rain to my Cheek’) references an absurdly futile task. The dedication is also made out ‘to all the failures’. Who exactly the ‘failures’ they are referring to are: could be the readers, themselves, or the tragic miscarriages that Cockrill and his wife suffered. All of these possible definitions of ‘failures’ are discussed delicately and with humour throughout the text and the illustrations. Cockrill and Husband manage to discuss difficult, but horrifically common problems that we could all face in our lives, without allowing themselves to create something dismally difficult to read. Instead they present their themes with a delicate honesty.