Favourite Illustrations

I thought I would produce a post for today which was a little less taxing than having to read through an entire review, and focus instead on that which has been largely neglected on The Literary Sisters to date – that of the humble illustration.  I must admit that I still love books with pictures in them, even as an adult and a PhD researcher.  When I flip open the pages of a Persephone book and see lovely illustrations alongside the text, I delight a little.  There is just something so charming about them.

Without further ado, I am going to post ten of my favourite book illustrations.  I hope you enjoy this veering away from the literary!


1. John Teniell‘s iconic interpretation of Lewis Carroll‘s Alice in Wonderland



2. E.H. Shepard‘s delightful images in A.A. Milne‘s Winnie the Pooh (and friends)



3. Carson Ellis‘ wonderful drawings in husband Colin Meloy‘s Wildwood Chronicles series



4. Ludwig Bemelmans‘ adorable redhead, Madeline



5. The Moomins by my beloved Tove Jansson



6. The lovely Babar by Jean de Brunhoff



7. Beatrix Potter‘s whimsical animals

The Mice Sewing the Mayor's Coat circa 1902 by Helen Beatrix Potter 1866-1943


8. Quentin Blake‘s wonderful depiction of Roald Dahl‘s Matilda



9. Mary Cicely Barker‘s Flower Fairies, which enchanted me throughout childhood



10. Pauline Baynes‘ stunning drawings in C.S. LewisChronicles of Narnia series



There are no great surprises here, I’m sure!  Which are your favourite illustrations?  Have I featured any of them here?


Flash Reviews (11th February 2014)

‘Amrita’ by Banana Yoshimoto (Faber & Faber)

Amrita by Banana Yoshimoto ***
I have read two of Yoshimoto’s books to date – N.P. and Asleep – and have very much enjoyed them both.  Amrita is a far longer work of fiction, and is consequently rather chunky in comparison.  The premise was so intriguing, however, that I did not think it would take me too long to get through.   The Independent on Sunday have called Yoshimoto ‘the voice of young Japan’, and it certainly follows that all of the books of hers which I have read so far are both culturally and socially important within both the context of Japan and the world.

Amrita was first published in Japan in 1994 and translated into English in 1997.  Throughout, what most interested me was the way in which other cultures have impacted upon modern Japan.  The main family in this novel, for example, eat things like borscht, and talk often about the impact of the West upon themselves.  Sadly, whilst I did enjoy the novel overall, I found some of the dialogue a little overworked.  It did not quite read true of a real conversation.  At times, the story feels a little flat, and the entirety seems to be entirely devoid of emotion at its most pivotal points.  The philosophical elements of the plot have clearly been well thought out, but they too seemed a little overworked at times, particularly towards the end of the novel.  Whilst Amrita is enjoyable, it is my least favourite Yoshimoto to date.

Purchase from The Book Depository

‘The Dogwood Fairy’ by Cicely Mary Barker

Flower Fairies: The Four Seasons by Cicely Mary Barker *****
This is another book which April so very kindly sent me for Christmas.  I have always absolutely adored the Flower Fairies, and it is lovely to have such a beautiful gift book, which includes the entire collection of Barker’s illustrations and poems, in my possession.  Barker’s drawings are absolutely beautiful, and the poems which run alongside them are so enchanting.  Reading them again as an adult made me realise just how informative they are with regard to different plants, and the ways in which a child can recognise them.  Little facts are woven in too – for example, that black bryony ‘used to be thought a cure for freckles’.  Flower Fairies: The Four Seasons is absolutely adorable, and is a book which I will be reading many more times in the future.

Purchase from The Book Depository