Squibby, Squirky, and Neil Gaiman

In honor of All Hallow’s Read, I give you Neil Gaiman‘s answer to my favorite question.

The very first bedtime stories I remember being told were by my father, who used to tell us stories about a couple of squirrels—small grey squirrels who lived in the trees near us and had adventures and who would fight evil foxes. They were called Squibby and Squirky. And I remembering the worst part of that was when we moved. “But they lived in our tree, outside our old house. We’re hundreds of miles away. How can you tell stories about them?”

Neil also practiced the “reading by the hallway light,” trick at a very young age. This is a close cousin to the “flashlight under the blankets” trick, but the advantage of the hallway light is that you are not actually breaking the the “lights out” rule within the confines of your own bedroom. The disadvantage, of course, is that the hallway light tends to be dim. It leaves you squinting at your book. This may or may not lead to perfect night vision in adulthood.

I was a really early reader, which was kind of useful. I would be in bed with the door open just enough to read by, after I’m not meant to be up at all, with these strange English comics. I don’t even remember the title. Whatever these things they were, these English comics for three year olds, they were about woodland animals having adventures with jam. Lot of woodland animals in England, in stories, lots of little little happy hedgehogs making jam. By the end of it there was jam everywhere. Could’ve been blood, I suppose.

You can hear him deliver this answer here, towards the very end of a rather long video. The whole thing is worth watching, of course. Dave McKean is in it. (I’ll post about his answer another time.)