There are some books I read and look at again and again. The ones on this page all move me or interest me. They inspire me, and I never get tired of them.
The Monkey and the Panda, by Antonio Barber and Meilo So
How are these images made? Carborandum print, perhaps? The fable of monkey and panda is set around an airy, light-filled mountain village. My niece wanted me to read the poem in it again and again. I am seduced, each time, by the textures, colours and layouts. Click here to see more. Published 1995 by Frances Lincoln.
The Green Ship, by Quentin Blake
What to pick from the great Sir Quentin Blake? His work is faultless. This one is about change, and imagination, and friendship - lots of stuff. Stunning images of course, and perfect characterisation. www.quentinblake.com. Click here to see more. First published 1998 by Red Fox.
The Moomins and The Book about Moomin, Mymble and Little My, by Tove Jansson
I read the Moomin novels when I was a kid, and only much more recently found Jansson's superbly-designed picture books, and the cartoon strips, which were commissioned by daily newspapers, on foot of her novels. I'm in awe of the design and purity. tovejansson.com. Click here to see more. First published 1952. English version by Sophie Hannah. Published 2001 by Sort of Books.
Miffy, by Dick Bruna
How did Bruna make Miffy so warm when she is so symmetrical, clear and clean? In the books (and posters in our bedrooms) her face never changed from one image to the next, but I knew everything she thought and felt. www.miffy.com. Click here to see more. This is from 'Miffy Goes Visting', published 1994, Mammoth Books.
Fluffy, by Simone Lia
Simone Lia's graphic novel is wicked, heartfelt and very funny. (So are her cards, posters and cartoon strip: www.simonelia.com) Fluffy, the little bunny, has a purely childlike take on the world. Lia's drawing is completely engaging. Click here to see more. First published 2007 by Jonathan Cape, Random House.
The Very Kind Rich Lady and Her One Hundred Dogs, by Chinlun Lee
Yes! One hundred dogs all for one lucky, kind, rich lady! The images are a delight, and each dog is an individual. It takes a long time to read, as you keep trying to see 'But where IS Juno? Where IS Hank?" Keep looking, they're there....
Chinlun Lee based the story on a kind rich lady she met who had FOUR hundred dogs! I suppose they wouldn't all fit in one book. Click here to see more. Published 2001 by Walker Books Ltd.
Queenie the Bantam Hen, by Bob Graham
I love Bob Graham's everyday families. He often explores the theme of home. My very favourite book of his is 'The Wild'. It's out of print right now, but if you can find it, buy it!
Queenie the Bantam Hen knows all about home and family too. A tolerant dog plays his part, a brave Dad (who knits), and a bump in Mum's tum. Click here to see more. Published 1997 by Walker Books Ltd.
Frog in Winter, by Max Velthuijs
All Frog books are top-class. 'Frog in Winter' was the first I found. Frog, our everyman hero, has good friends, all completely human (disguised as ducks, hares, pigs etc.). They deal with issues of race, outsiders, friendship, love. www.maxvelthuijs.org. Click here to see more. First published 1992 by Andersen Press.
Courtney, by John Burningham
Sigh. Lovely Courtney. So human. So good to his humans. He goes away... but he never really goes away. As ever Burningham strikes his notes perfectly, and never, ever explains things when you can infer them for yourself. Click here to see more. First published 1994 by Red Fox.
Little Blue and Little Yellow, by Leo Lionni
These illustrations remind me not to get fancy. Most of Lionni's work is less graphic; all of it is very telling. Click here to see more. Published 1995 by HarperCollins, first published 1959.
Our Animal Friends at Maple Hill Farm, by Alice and Martin Provensen
I'll go out on a limb and say this is my very favourite book, and has been for some years. The Provensens show their animal friends in a clear light, as they really are, and we can like them and understand them, and see their weaknesses and strengths. There is even a place for animals and friends who are, sadly, no longer with us. This book also always makes me laugh a lot. Click here to see more. First published 1974 by Random House Inc, NY.
Kiki is an Actress, by Charlotte Steiner
I have a great affection for this book. It has accompanied me from childhood right to my top shelf in the house I live in now. Surviving the Murphy household took some doing for a book. I love the illustrations, but they are so familiar - who knows what I would think of them if I saw the book today for the first time? Click here to see more. Published in 1958 by Doubleday.
Jade Tales, by Micheline Maurel and Annick Delhumeau
It seems many of the books I love are from way back when I was small. I wonder what would children think of them now? Jade Tales fascinated me, all the curious layouts and perspectives. Then it disappeared from our home. A few years ago, after much searching and trying to remember the book title, I found a copy. I remembered some of the stories, but it is the images that were completely memorable. Delhumeau illustrated other wonderful books, but I can't find them anywhere for sale. Click here to see more. First published in Great Britain in 1964 by Edmund Ward.