The wordless picturebook Vicki tells the story of a lonely but resourceful little girl who finds an unusual way to solve her problems. When she is rejected by various playmates, Vicki decides to sew her own doll ‘friend’ out of wool and fabric. This toy provides a route for her to be accepted by the other children.
When we first see Vicki she is alone within a hideout of flowers and grasses. She is bored and generally a bit fed up.
Then Vicki makes friends with another girl and they skip off together. But the girl is soon tempted away by a boy and Vicki is left distraught again.
A group of dancing children also reject Vicki, their snooty faces making clear they don’t want to play with her.
Vicki then sets about making her own ‘friend’ from wool, lace and ribbons. This rather strange homemade doll arouses the interest of other children, who approach Vicki to take a closer look at it.
Before long, they ask Vicki to play with them. As Vicki and her doll join in a circle of dancing children, both order and cheerfulness are restored.
Renate Meyer (1930-2014) was born into a Jewish family in Berlin but, following the rise of the Nazis, her family relocated to the UK in 1933. Renate became a British citizen in 1938 and eventually studied art at the Regent Street Polytechnic, where she met her future husband Charles Keeping (1924-1988), a fellow illustrator whose work is also represented on this site (see Inter-City).
Renate had an unusual and distinctive style, as she used various techniques to create her illustrations, including oils, water-colour, collage and painting on plastics and glass. In Vicki she printed directly onto paper through a variety of materials such as leaves, grasses, lace and other fabrics.
Renate Meyer also illustrated several other children’s books for The Bodley Head, including the wordless Hide-and-Seek.