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
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. Lewis‘ Chronicles of Narnia series
There are no great surprises here, I’m sure! Which are your favourite illustrations? Have I featured any of them here?
‘Mara Wilson has always felt a little young and a little out of place: as the only child on a film set full of adults, the first daughter in a house full of boys, the sole clinically depressed member of the cheerleading squad, a valley girl in New York and a neurotic in California, and one of the few former child actors who has never been in jail or rehab. Tackling everything from how she first learned about sex on the set ofMelrose Place, to losing her mother at a young age, to getting her first kiss (or was it kisses?) on a celebrity canoe trip, to not being cute enough to make it in Hollywood, these essays tell the story of one young womans journey from accidental fame to relative (but happy) obscurity. But they also illuminate a universal struggle: learning to accept yourself, and figuring out who you are and where you belong.’
Mara Wilson’s Where Am I Now? was one of my most anticipated Christmas reads. Wilson is just wonderful; I found myself wanting to be best friends with her when I saw her in both Matilda and Miracle on 34th Street as a small child, and was a little sad when I noticed years later that she seemed to have faded from the limelight.
Wilson is a witty and original writer, and comes across just as I thought it would. Her narrative voice is engaging, and this renders the book rather difficult to put down from the very beginning. Wilson is candid about her childhood struggles with continued acting and her mother’s death from cancer; she is intelligent, warm, and eye-opening in many respects. Her letter to Matilda is insightful and almost tear-inducing. Where Am I Now? is a poignant and meaningful memoir, and I for one cannot wait to see what she turns her hand to next.
10. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Quirky, fun and beautifully illustrated, especially the Tove Jansson edition. I love the book so much that I have three separate copies of it.
9. Old Bear by Jane Hissey
I used to adore these tales, and would read them with my Mum on a regular basis. The ITV adaptation of the stories was absolutely charming.
8. Matilda by Roald Dahl
What’s not to like about a story of a wonderfully bookish and intelligent little girl who finds happiness? Absolutely lovely.
7. The Folk of the Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton
I’ve yet to meet anyone who hasn’t enjoyed the Faraway Tree stories, and this is a particularly great collection. I adore the way in which the new lands come to the top of the tree, and the adventures which ensue along the way.
6. The Jolly Postman, Or Other People’s Letters by Janet Ahlberg
This book and its sequels kept me amused for hours. It is presented in such an exciting, lovely format.