Dear Mr. Jacques,
Can I call you Brian? It feels weird to call you Brian. I’m gonna skip over the name issue for now. Maybe I’ll adjust. Speaking of names, though, I’m guessing you’ve never heard of Shadow and Sprinkles. Let me tell you, Brian – no, it still feels weird to call you Brian. Let me tell you, Mr. Jacques, about Shadow and Sprinkles. Shadow was a black lab; Sprinkles was a Dalmatian, and Shadow’s best friend. And they were some of the first characters I came up with in any sort of formal writing as a child. Though they were preceded by some very memorable elephants in large-print short stories, Shadow and Sprinkles were the stars of my first novel, written when I was about 9 years old, which apart from the dogs themselves had pretty much all of its elements ripped directly from your books.
Yes, Shadow and Sprinkles were transported – magically of course – from their suburban backyard to the forests of the Redwall universe, where they encountered a small baby mouse who became their traveling companion, and went up against rats, ferrets, ermines, and – of course – stoats. Thanks for that vocabulary boost, by the way. Throughout their journey to defeat the awful varmints who ran amok in the forest, Shadow and Sprinkles defended the local population of mice, otters, badgers, and other friendly creatures, worked to settle disputes among some moles, and remained strongly focused on food. You taught me well there, Mr. Jacques.
While the escapades of Shadow and Sprinkles will never again see the light of day – due not only to my embarrassment at the writing of my nine-year-old self, but also because I’m sure they violate several copyright laws – I’d like to take a moment to thank you this November for introducing me to the world of Redwall and all its treasures. A society of all animals was everything I wanted as a kid, and Redwall had the added bonus of being set in an era of history I have since (perhaps, unsurprisingly) grown to love. So thanks for the Abbey’s mouse friars and the gentle burr-accented moles. Thanks for Log-a-Log and the ranks and ranks of shrews. Thanks for the Skipper and all of the otters – cherished representations of what was and will continue to be my favorite animal. Thanks for the badger lords of Salamandastron and their warrior hares. And thank you, from the very bottom of my heart, for Shadow and Sprinkles. They owe every single last one of their forest adventures to you.
Love from all my past and current selves,
P.S. I know you were never a fan of video games, but I hope you would be delighted to know that a circle of my friends and I are planning a Redwall-based tabletop RPG campaign. Unsurprisingly, I’ll be playing an otter, a character who will hopefully fit into the world of Redwall a little better than Shadow and Sprinkles ever managed to.
(n.b. Header image for this post is from The Great Redwall Feast, illustrated by Christopher Denise. See more of his work here.)