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

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

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

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

Fattypuffs and Thinifers
Classics

Fattypuffs and Thinifers

Being a massive Alice and Narnia nut I’m a sucker for any book that takes me through a crack in our world and into another, much stranger place. It’s the ultimate fantasy device, playing directly into children’s imaginative games. Revisiting these stories later in life is a direct reminder of what it felt like to … Continue reading

Here be Dragons
Classics

Here be Dragons

I’m having a big dragon-fest at work recently, which has given me a good excuse to trawl some of my favourite picture book beasties, plus some brand new ones. In the 1960s Tove Jansson, best known for creating her very own Moomin shaped folk legends, turned her hand to illustrating some British children’s classics including … Continue reading

High Street by Eric Ravilious
Classics

High Street by Eric Ravilious

There can’t be many children’s books that explain exactly how to get served in the pub. ‘If you want ordinary beer you ask for “bitter”. Usually there are also two kinds of ale, mild ale and old ale (which also called Burton), and you can order a mixture of any two, such as “old and mild” or “bitter and Burton”.’ Got that kids? Mine’s a Burton and Red Bull. Continue reading