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?


Favourite Books from my Childhood: One

I thought that it would be a good idea to create a blog post about all of the books which I adored as a child, and naturally, there are many of them.  I have used my Library spreadsheet (a big list of all of the books which I’ve read during my lifetime) as inspiration.

Topsy and Tim

The Big Surprise (Topsy and Tim #2) by Jean Adamson – I used to read the Topsy and Tim books religiously when I was in infant school, and they were the first books I got to when I moved myself up a reading group, much to my parents’ amusement.  In my infant school library, we had a series of wooden boxes on legs, and each of them was painted in a different colour.  The books within each had a corresponding coloured sticker upon their spine.  When I had made my way through the colour which I had been assigned, I would move myself up so that I had more books at my disposal.  I think, in this way, that I reached the books for the most advanced readers when I was still in the middle of Year One.  I also learnt recently that Jean Adamson is a relatively local author to me, and I would have found such a fact terribly exciting when I was younger.  Topsy and Tim is a lovely series of books, and this was my particular favourite.


Funnybones by Allan Ahlberg – This book had an accompanying cartoon, which I am sure that many people of my age still remember the opening rhyme to.  The concept was quite simple: in a dark, dark town, in a dark, dark street, in a dark, dark house, in a dark, dark cellar, lived three skeletons – Big Skeleton, Little Skeleton, and their dog.  Each story featuring the trio was so fun, and I loved the illustrations.  Even though the very idea of living skeletons who enjoy playing tricks on people seems a little odd to me as an adult, something about it really worked, and for this reason, Funnybones and the rest of the books in the series will definitely be read (and the cartoon shown) to my future children, who will hopefully find it as amusing and memorable as I still do.

The Bear Nobody Wanted by Janet and Allan Ahlberg – Janet and Allan Ahlberg were my literary heroes when I was small, and I loved reading all of their books.  The Bear Nobody Wanted is one which remains vivid in my mind.  The story begins as a sad one, but it has a delightful ending, and it certainly made me treasure my soft toys all the more. 

‘The Jolly Postman’

The Jolly Postman, or Other People’s Letters, The Jolly Pocket Postman and The Jolly Christmas Postman by Janet and Allan Ahlberg – I still remember these books with such fondness.  Each had a plethora of small envelopes inside, in which there were tiny letters which the Jolly Postman was delivering all around town.  I am certain that the stories would still absolutely delight me as an adult, and I am very excited about the possible prospect of re-reading them far into the future.

Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg – Definitely one of the most adorable simple picture books that there is.  I vividly remember reading it over and over again before I could even read its words.

Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen – I still absolutely adore these tales, and was lucky enough to drag my boyfriend around the Hans Christian Andersen Museum in Copenhagen last year.  I cannot pick a favourite story as I did love so many of them, but as it is still essentially wintertime, I shall say that ‘The Snow Queen’, and its beautiful television adaptations, is at the very pinnacle of my treasures list.

‘The Lighthouse Keeper’s Lunch’ by Ronda Armitage

The Lighthouse Keeper’s Lunch by Ronda and David Armitage – Such an absolutely charming book, which I remember adoring.  I found out last year that there is an entire series of these books, and am hoping that my library has them all in stock so that I can joyfully discover the Lighthouse Keeper all over again.

The Flower Fairies by Cicely Mary Barker – It goes without saying that I absolutely adored these books.  Which little girl didn’t?  I would happily gaze at the illustrations for hours, and read the lovely accompanying rhymes.

Brambly Hedge

The Complete Brambly Hedge by Jill Barklem – Surely the most adorable series of books, Brambly Hedge centered around a group of woodland creatures who wore the most adorable clothing, and were real characters in themselves.  I am longing to rediscover these lovely tales once more.

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie – Quite honestly, I could gush about this charming book for hours.  If you haven’t read it before, please, go and do so.  It is beautiful, magical and filled with adventure – for me, the very cornerstones of marvellous children’s literature.

Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans – Everyone who knows me tends to know how much I absolutely adore the Madeline books, and Madeline herself as a character.  These tales are all told in rhyme, and centre upon a children’s orphanage in Paris, in which Madeline lives with eleven other little girls and their guardian, Miss Clavel.  Bemelmans’ illustrations are utterly charming, and he effortlessly captures the excitement and adventure which his little heroine encounters along the way.

Purchase these books from the Book Depository


Sunday Snapshot: Childhood Favourites (#25-#21)

25. Madeline in London by Ludwig Bemelmans
There is something wonderful in the thought that a nun could suddenly up and take the twelve little girls in her charge on a trip from Paris to London to visit their lonely next door neighbour who has been forced to move by his Ambassador father.  This story is charming, funny and just absolutely lovely.

24. The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy
Oh, this book is just utterly lovely.  Mildred is a wonderful and vivid character and her adventures are both amusing and exciting.  I found myself inwardly cheering when she saved the day and can’t wait to read the rest of the series.  A wonderful piece of nostalgia.

23. Sophie Hits Six by Dick King Smith
I remember reading all of the Sophie stories when I was little, and they’re just enchanting.  The stories are so cute and Sophie is a wonderful character.  A great book.

22. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
<i>James and the Giant Peach</i> is an absolutely magical and enchanting tale from one of the world’s best storytellers.  It is as wonderful reading it at the age of, say, 22 as it was at the age of 6.

21. The Suitcase Kid by Jacqueline Wilson
I lost count of the number of times I read this book as a child.  It is incredibly sad on the whole, and deals with a young girl struggling after her parents split up, but the characters are all marvellous, and it is written so sensitively.


Sunday Snapshot: Childhood Favourites (#30-#26)

I have been a voracious reader all my life, so what could be better than to share some of my favourite childhood books? They are in no particular order, and all are treasures to me for various reasons. I will be counting down from 30 for the next six Sundays, and will hopefully be creating a marvellous list whilst I’m at it.

30. Now We Are Six by A.A. Milne
This is an absolutely lovely little book of poetry, and one which I remember vividly from my childhood. I loved the charming, quaint verse and the myriad of different scenes which Milne so skilfully evoked. The illustrations throughout were a delight, and this is a collection which I shall continue to read throughout my life.

29. First Term at Malory Towers by Enid Blyton
I spent many days of my childhood reading Enid Blyton, and the Malory Towers series was one of my favourites. I found this book a perfect one to read in front of a roaring fire on a chilly Saturday. I liked the interlinked stories throughout, and it was a real delight to rediscover all of the characters whom I’d somehow forgotten about in the intervening years.

28. The Dolls’ House by Rumer Godden
The Dolls’ House is utterly adorable and is filled with some absolutely wonderful characters.  Tottie and Charlotte were particularly endearing, and I loved the limitless imagination which Godden demonstrated throughout the book.  It is so quaint and lovely, and is definitely well worth reading in terms of both nostalgia and loveliness.

27. George’s Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl
<i>George’s Marvellous Medicine</i> is so fun and inventive.  Part of me is a tiny bit tempted to see if a similar trick would work on my very own grouchy Grandma.  Or perhaps I should just send her a copy of the book instead…

26. Madeline and the Gypsies by Ludwig Bemelmans
This particular <i>Madeline</i> story is incredibly inventive and funny.  Bemelman’s illustrations are sublime, and I love the way in which he captures the excitement of circus life for his wonderful heroine.