Latest Entries
Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster & Edward Ardizzone
Classics

Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster & Edward Ardizzone

With a retrospective of the artist Edward Ardizzone opening at the House of Illustration this week, I wanted to showcase one of his lesser known works – Jean Webster’s 1912 classic Daddy Long-Legs. Jean Webster was the grand-niece of Mark Twain; a relationship that suggests literary nepotism but was in fact fraught with difficulties.  Her father had … Continue reading

Lotta by Astrid Lindgren & Beatrice Alemagna
Bad Girl Warning

Lotta by Astrid Lindgren & Beatrice Alemagna

  Big love for a European success story today, as Astrid Lindgren’s tale of a naughty little Swede is reimagined by Italian / French artist Beatrice Alemagna (with reference to the English translation by Gerry Bothmer). Lotta is Astrid’s lesser known child anarchist. Several years Pippi Longstocking’s junior, and the youngest of three siblings, Lotta … Continue reading

Pancake Day
Festivals

Pancake Day

‘This is Pancake day,’ said the Professor, taking his four pairs of spectacles off, and getting them just as mixed up as he usually got his five pairs. ‘It is a festival that is inclined to die out, because although people like pancakes they won’t trouble to cook them. Too much trouble. Too much mess. … Continue reading

The Dolls’ House by Rumer Godden
Advent Calendar / Book of the Smallfilm

The Dolls’ House by Rumer Godden

    ‘On Christmas morning the Plantaganets woke to hear real carol singers in the street outside. “Peace and goodwill among men,” sang the carol singers. “And among dolls,” said Mr Plantaganet. “I hope among dolls.” Unfortunately for Mr Plantaganet, an abused doll with a crudely drawn pencil moustache on his upper lip, things are … Continue reading

Ed Vere Q&A
Children’s Books That Saved My Life

Ed Vere Q&A

Ed Vere is back with a new series of picture books about a scrap of a black kitten called Max. The second book, Max at Night, was published this month in which the kitten turns superhero, fearlessly prowling the city at night. Ed’s picture books draw on classic comic book action and have bold graphic design elements, so I was interested to find out about the books that shaped him as an author. Continue reading

The Original Steampunk – Bryan Talbot’s Luther Arkwright
Comics

The Original Steampunk – Bryan Talbot’s Luther Arkwright

Written between 1978 and 1989 Luther Arkwright can lay claim to being one of the very first, fully realised Steampunk novels. The retro futurist genre can be seen everywhere nowadays, in children’s books like Philip Reeve’s Mortal Engines books and comic book franchises like The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, but Talbot rarely receives much credit … Continue reading

The Book I Read Until it Fell Apart – Tintin  Prisoners of the Sun
Children’s Books That Saved My Life / Comics

The Book I Read Until it Fell Apart – Tintin Prisoners of the Sun

Reading it again today I can see exactly what attracted me to this story. Tintin drags the increasingly eccentric Captain Haddock out of his family home on a mission down the Amazon and up the Peruvian Andes, where he hopes to to lift the Inca’s curse. Prisoners of the Sun is the perfect Tintin adventure, with a string of amazing action sequences and dramatic set pieces. Continue reading

Mr. Miacca
Märchen

Mr. Miacca

As a child, along with books, the other essential thing in my life was my top loading cassette recorder with its library of half recorded songs from the top 40. I also had in my collection a handful of ‘listening and reading’ story cassettes which played till they stretched, warped and unravelled inside the machine. … Continue reading

Alan Garner’s Caves
A-Z of Places

Alan Garner’s Caves

A is for Alderley Edge. Throughout his life Alan Garner has drawn on the landscape and legends of Alderley Edge, the place that has been home to his family for many, many generations. It has become more than just a dramatic backdrop though, its hills, rivers and most of all its stones have become the defining character of his writing, providing a link throughout his stories, and a connection with the deep history of the area. Continue reading

The Pogles
Book of the Smallfilm

The Pogles

Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin, fresh from reimagining the Norse sagas in cardboard moved on to the dark corners of the European folk tale for their next major venture, The Pogles. Viewers were invited into the woodland behind Firmin’s barnyard studio in the Kent countryside, where a family of centuries old tree dwelling small people … Continue reading

Nancy by Ernie Bushmiller
Comics

Nancy by Ernie Bushmiller

I sometimes ask my children when they sit reading the Beano of a Saturday morning, faces as straight as if they were contemplating the FTSE 100, whether they find the venerable comic funny? ‘Oh yes,’ they reply in all seriousness, ‘very funny.’ Yet no laughs are ever forthcoming. Keen to feed their interest in this … Continue reading

The Puffin Club
Puffin / Q&A

The Puffin Club

The Puffin Club was the groundbreaking venture launched by editor Kaye Webb in 1967 that changed children’s books forever. The club broke down the barrier between authors and young readers, bringing them together at Puffin parties and in the pages of Puffin Post. Webb helped create the world our children our now lucky enough to inhabit, … Continue reading

Grimm by Cruikshank
Märchen

Grimm by Cruikshank

  1823 is where it really began for illustrated children’s books in Britain; with the first publication of tales from the Brothers Grimm in English, illustrated by George Cruikshank – a man who had found fame drawing pictures of the Prince Regent blowing off. There had been publications for children before Grimms’ Fairy Tales; publishers … Continue reading

Super Hairy Animals
New Books / Q&A

Super Hairy Animals

I’ve been having a bit of a Beatles week, listening my way through their records and revisiting their films. All of which provided the backdrop against which I read two recent picture books by the Superhairies – the creative team of artist Angus Mackinnon and writer James Thorp. The Lobster, Weasel, Puffin, Unicorn, Baboon, Pig … Continue reading

Maurice Sendak – A Day in the Life
Sendak

Maurice Sendak – A Day in the Life

In 1982 Maurice Sendak was interviewed by the BBC’s arts documentary series Omnibus. ‘The highly reclusive writer’ had just completed designs for a production of Profokiev’s opera, The Love of Three Oranges. He speaks candidly and widely about his life and career in children’s book illustration. The interview showcases Sendak‘s sharp mind and even sharper … Continue reading

Mutants, Mayhem, Mistletoe – 2000AD at Christmastime
Advent Calendar / Comics

Mutants, Mayhem, Mistletoe – 2000AD at Christmastime

Christmas and comic book sci-fi don’t always go together that well. It’s there at the kitschier ends of the genre – ‘Happy Christmas Superdog. And thank you Wonder Woman, you’ve done a neat job turning my Fortress of Solitude into a winter wonderland.’ Or ‘Holy immaculate conception Batman.’ That sort of thing. There’s one notable … Continue reading

Once Upon a Northern Night by Isabelle Arsenault
Advent Calendar

Once Upon a Northern Night by Isabelle Arsenault

In Once Upon a Northern Night the French/ Canadian illustrator Isabelle Arsenault collaborates with writer Jean Pendziwol, who draws on her native Lake Superior and northern Ontario. Arsenault’s style is painterly but with a strong graphic design element that helps create artwork that take your far beyond the world in which they are set. It’s … Continue reading

The Fish in the Bathtub by Eoin Colfer
A-Z of Places / Advent Calendar

The Fish in the Bathtub by Eoin Colfer

W is for Warsaw. ‘Neither Germans nor communists will keep me from a fish steak this Christmas Eve.’ ‘What does German look like?’ Lucja asked. ‘Like a communist’, Grandpa Feliks said crossly. ‘But with better boots.’ If you’re after an original, heartwarming Christmas book without the usual turkey or trimmings, then look no further than … Continue reading

Jennie
Märchen / Sendak

Jennie

What do you do after you’ve created the greatest picture book of all time? It’s a question only Maurice Sendak could answer. In between his two great triumphs – Where the Wild Things Are and In the Night Kitchen he turned to his two great inspirations, the fairy tale and his dog Jennie. The resulting … Continue reading

Reginald Pepper
Classics

Reginald Pepper

Pepper and Jam is the story of two oversized cats, the aptly named Longbody and his noisy brother Tractor. They live in an end of terrace house in Swindon with their humans, the social climbing Mrs Pepper and her son Reginald, who also provides the illustrations. When Mrs Pepper plans a holiday the cats do … Continue reading

Marianne Dreams
Classics

Marianne Dreams

Marianne is a twelve year old girl confined to bed for months with a debilitating illness. Tired but restless she plunders a keepsake box handed down from her great grandmother to her mother and finds amongst the shiny trinkets a nice pencil, ‘It was one of those pencils that are simply asking to be written or drawn with.’ Continue reading

Tove Jansson’s Tales of Horror
Tove 100

Tove Jansson’s Tales of Horror

There’s a lot of horror in Tove’s work, Grokes, Hattifatteners and in the psychological short story A Tale of Horror (1962), monstrous Little My. ‘That girl… you’d never believe… I’m not going back there, not in a thousand years,” the Whomper continued savagely. “She tricked me! she told such stories! She makes people sick with her lies!’ Continue reading

Up and Up and Up
Classics / Sendak

Up and Up and Up

I’ve only had one recurring dream in my life. It’s quite hard to explain, as these things often are, but it involves me flying, or rather floating, like Alice down the rabbit hole, through some sort of shaft. Sometimes things go rather smoothly and I swoop and saw. Other times I’ll be flailing about, crashing … Continue reading

Charlie et la Chocolaterie illustrated by Michel Siméon
Charlie at 50 / Roald Dahl

Charlie et la Chocolaterie illustrated by Michel Siméon

Voici Charlie. Bonjour, Charlie! Bonjour, bonjour et re-bonjour. In 1967 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was published in France for the first time. As I mentioned in my previous article this was nearly a full year before any British publisher thought it worthy of publication. It came with brand new illustrations by Michel Siméon the … Continue reading

Pancake Day
Festivals

Pancake Day

‘This is Pancake day,’ said the Professor, taking his four pairs of spectacles off, and getting them just as mixed up as he usually got his five pairs. ‘It is a festival that is inclined to die out, because although people like pancakes they won’t trouble to cook them. Too much trouble. Too much mess. … Continue reading

The Black Dossier – Return of the ‘Golliwogg’
Classics / Comics

The Black Dossier – Return of the ‘Golliwogg’

In 2007 Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill published The Black Dossier, the third volume in their comic book series ‘The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen‘. Spanning an alternative 20th Century the League are a group of government agents based on characters from Victorian genre fiction. In The Black Dossier the league square up to a very unreconstructed spy called ‘Jimmy Bond’. But they’re aided by an even more controversial figure. Continue reading

Moominland Midwinter
Tove 100

Moominland Midwinter

Here begins the year of Tove Jansson. 100 years since her birth, The Egg theatre in Bath bring us the UK’s very first staging of one of her Moomin stories (ridiculous!). The year also sees their first original motion picture outing in Moomins on the Riviera and a stage musical of Moominsummer Madness. But I’ll … Continue reading