Not sure how I ended up on this particular comps list, but, hey, it’s a new Raymond Briggs, I’m not complaining. A trailblazer and a master.

In his customary pose as the grumpiest of grumpy old men, Raymond Briggs contemplates old age and death… and doesn’t like them much. Illustrated with Briggs’s inimitable pencil drawings, Time for Lights Out is a collection of short pieces, some funny, some melancholy, some remembering his wife who died young, others about the joy of grandchildren, of walking the dog… He looks back at his schooldays and his time as an evacuee during the war, and remembers his parents and the house in which he grew up. But most, like this one, are about his home in Sussex:

Looking round this house,
What will they say,
The future ghosts?

It is a beautiful book, and, on first inspection, performatively melancholy but fiercely alive. He’s 85 now, and if this might be his last book, then it is a fine point on which to sign out and leave the room. And if, as one hopes, it’s not? Then, in these October years, we know that he’s still smiling to himself and still stretching. What a joy to be gifted a new Briggs this season.