Archives for category: Illustrated

Published by Faber & Faber

This is a superb book – I started this yesterday afternoon, in my tea-break. Then continued reading on the way home on the train and then just before sleep. This morning I read it between having my shower and getting dressed, then on the train again, this time on the way to work. Sadly I had no time at lunch, but finished it this evening as I came home again.

The legend of Podkin One-Ear is related by a story-teller, one who tramps the lands to tell tales at times of celebration. The legend he relates is full of good old fashioned adventure, with a young rabbit, the son of a chieftain and his older sister and younger brother up against an evil taking over their world. At the start of the tale, he does have both his ears…

I can only say I loved it – was captivated by the story, which was enhanced by the illustrations by David Wyatt – just enough to give extra flavour to the legend.


This will be a classic, without any doubt. I usually pass on my proofs to local youngsters. I’m afraid this time, I’m keeping this one. Simply one of the best books I have read for a very long time, which is particularly pleasing for this age group. For them, there isn’t enough good writing, so I’m always pleased when I come across something this good for our younger readers…though anyone sensible, who is older than that will enjoy it too…

Published by Pushkin Children’s Books

This is probably the most extraordinary cat book I have ever read. Part love story, part adventure this really has something for everyone. Liberally illustrated by Andrezej Klimowski and translated from the Russian.

Baguette likes to lie in a window space watching the birds. The love of his life was slender and striped, her nose was as pink as a rosebud, her whiskers as white as snow on New Year’s Day, and her coat shone like a diamond necklace…

The black cat Noir lives close by and is a rival for Purriana’s affections and tries to encourage Baguette to leap to the birds (and his death), but Baguette is more intelligent than that…

It is great fun – very different from any other cat book I have read. Whether Baguette wins the paw of Purriana is for you to find out – another rather special book from Pushkin Press.

Published by Faber & Faber.

I shall never think of mackerel in the same way again.

This is a beautiful book, unlike any I have read before. Billy’s ‘thing’ is Natural History, the strange and peculiar; the interesting facts about animals that make the subject so fascinating. His hero, is also one of mine – Sir David Attenborough, who makes regular visits to Billy in his daydreams, as his mind wanders away from life when he doesn’t want to deal with the more challenging things that it periodically throws at us all. He watches all David’s programmes, and he knows that he has all the answers to everything – to all the questions, he just has to listen and he will answer.

Billy is different, not the usual boy. Being different isn’t good, at least that is what Billy has found. His class find him strange and as Billy knows that isn’t always good in the animal kingdom.

Then a new boy arrives at school, another boy who is interested in Natural History. He though is different from Billy; he can’t swim, and Billy can. Patrick though, can do other things…and is willing to wait for his friend, when many others wouldn’t.

The imaginative text – which is so peculiar to the book is reflected in the use of typeface  – which along with the illustrations makes this very unique.

It is a beautifully illustrated volume – the book has superb free and paste-down endpapers and a lovely dust jacket with fish swimming on them – and one in particular, a mackerel facing Fish Boy on the front. It is handsomely designed and the pictures really contribute to making this a very special book – they make it more of a gift and rather special.

It has been published in hardback, but it would have been a disservice to both the story, design and illustrations if it hadn’t been. It costs a little more, but you receive more than you pay when you purchase such a volume.

Buy it.

Image: Anne Cecile

Wide Eyed Editions

This is a book like none other that I have come across. An exploration of the world of nature using coloured lenses to bring clarity to the pictures.  I wish that I didn’t know about the science behind it, and for those who don’t, it will be a simply magical volume. Without doubt Carnovsky’s illustrations in three colours make this book the extraordinary volume it is. This is not a story book, this is a non fiction book showing animals and vegetation like never before. It is not only a beautifully illustrated book – it is full of information too. A wonderfully remarkable volume that should be given to all good little girls and boys  who enjoy natural history.

The lenses are set carefully into the inside of the front boards for safe keeping.

It is beautiful and extraordinary.

Published by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books

This is so much more than a story book. Beautifully illustrated it relates the story of Isabelle and her friend and companion, Pickle her dog. Vibrant and a superb gift it details the four seasons as they occur throughout their adventure.

What really makes this a superb volume is the music. Each page has a button which when pressed plays a small excerpt of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons to go along with the story. It brilliantly allows young people to experience a gorgeous piece of classical music mixed with a lovely narrative and beautiful illustrations. The rendition is as good as many CD’s I have heard play; it is not a ‘noisy’ book – it does not fit into that genre – the book plays music.

I am pleased to note that there are to be more books like this produced by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books. I am hoping that the next piece will be either, the Nutcracker or perhaps better still, the 1812 – what fun to have a book with cannons!



Published by Bloomsbury

There is something really rather wonderful about this book. It is not, though a book for those of a nervous disposition.

An alphabet of sorts. A list of rather unlucky children, perhaps, then again it is a compendium of children who through want of a little care and attention, come to  grief.

This is I suppose a rather macabre volume – however, I deal with all sorts of  small children on a daily basis, and am regularly surprised how they survive…often there doesn’t seem to be much attention given to them as they crawl out of our store, towards the escalators…

I wonder what Gorey would think. Perhaps there is a second volume out there…

A is for AMY who fell down the stairs

B is for BASIL assaulted by bears

C is for CLARA who wasted away

D is for DESMOND thrown out of a sleigh

E is for ERNEST who choked on a peach

F is for FANNY sucked dry by a leach

G is for GEORGE smothered under a rug

H is for HECTOR done in by a thug

I is for IDA who drowned in a lake

J is for JAMES who took lye by mistake

K is for KATE who was struck by an axe

L is for LEO who swallowed some tacks

M is for MAUD who was swept out to sea

N is for NEVILLE who died of ennui

O is for OLIVE run through with an awl

P is for PRUE trampled flat in a brawl

Q is for QUENTIN who sank in a mire

R is for RHODA consumed by a fire

S is for SUSAN who perished of fits

T is for TITUS who flew into bits

U is for UNA who slipped down a drain

V is for VICTOR squashed under a train

W is for WINNIE embedded in ice

X is for XERXES devoured by mice

Y is for YORICK whose head was knocked in

Z is for ZILLAH who drank too much gin




Inventive, fun and a good cautionary tale for parent’s of curious children…

I particularly like the demise of Xerxes…

Though written out here in full, it is worth the small expenditure to buy a copy so it can be read without hindrance.

I may produce a modern version…I must put my mind to it one day…

Published by Julia MacRae Books 1986 Now Out of Print.

This is a small volume that I treasure, and at just 3 and a half inches tall by 3 wide, it is one of the smaller books I own. With detailed illustrations by John Lawrence. It is, perhaps just a catalogue of babies: Good, Bad (I particularly like the engraving for the  Bad Babies), Sweet, Sour, Bald, Curly, Fat, and “Fin Ones”… all the way through to “Bye Bye Baby Ones”.

It is sadly out of print, so your best bet to purchase one of these small nuggets of joy – is to look on ViaLibri where you will find (as I did this morning) various copies listed from around £8 and upwards. Certainly worth looking into, though be aware that Amazon does deal through that site too, and I always feel that they should be avoided and ‘real’ second-hand and rare bookshops should be supported where possible…

The above illustration is taken from the Internet. That copy has a stain across the front board and spine. I have to say mine is in mint condition. Do be careful when purchasing second-hand or antiquarian books off the Internet. Unless you really just want the text; the condition is all important!

It is a little gem of a book.

Published by Gecko Press

This is about the power of friendship.  Giraffe has everything he needs, apart from someone to share his thoughts with. When he comes across a notice offering a postal service he asks Pelican to deliver a letter for him. To the first animal Pelican comes across, beyond the horizon.

This book is charmingly and naively illustrated – with a bright red cover it really stands out. Translated from the Japanese there is something rather good about it. Small, without much text on each page – and rather good…

Perhaps we should all write more letters…to people who live over the horizon…

Published by Gecko Press

What makes a friendship work? Sometimes it can seem that one is always giving and the other taking.  Purdy the Cat and Barker the Dog have one such friendship. Purdy would rather take the easy way. He’s a dreamer. Someone who likes to hope, believe that everything will work fine, but without really planning anything. He refuses to worry. Barker on the other hand worries. About everything. If things aren’t done the way he feels they should be, if he doesn’t prepare, he worries that it will fall apart. He worries. Takes responsibility. Purdy though, is full of mad-cap schemes. He hopes that if he rides the moon beam across the water he will fly up to the moon. Barker knows this won’t happen, but then realises the Purdy can’t swim…

This is the story of a friendship. Actually its about all friendships. Its about hopes and dreams and practicalities too. Each chapter is a story unto itself, until the book is completed, when you realise that each story makes up a greater whole.

The illustrations are extraordinary and full of life. It is the story a bicycle ride. It is about a cat who has a birthday…





Published by Gecko Press

There are not, in my opinion many good books for 5 – 8 year old readers. For those young readers who are just beginning to enjoy and find out about reading – learning to disappear into another world, to learn about this one, new words, a turn of phrase, to experience a good story, well told.

The author and illustrator of this the first Dani book I have read are Swedish. The English is straightforward and simply used. The illustrations complement the story beautifully too.

Dani is staying with her friend whilst her father is in hospital. He rings each night, the highlight of her day, until one day he doesn’t. She and Ella do everything together so the next morning she goes to talk to her about it. Then Sven, her cousin arrives too and it seems he knows something he’s not supposed to tell…and Dani is confused and upset to hear about her father’s new friend…

This is a touching story, beautifully written that covers the subject of introducing someone new to a family of two. It covers jealousy and fear and is also just a lovely story too – of making and selling coffee, juice and buns to people who arrive at the island,  of swimming in the sea, and violin playing. It is a story of friendship – its lovely.

There are three other titles in the collection: My Happy Life, My Heart is Laughing, and When I am Happiest. I haven’t seen these, but I am sure they are similar to this one – books to be savoured.