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I have always adored illustration, and my love began when I was quite young, with a completely bonkers book called 'The Runaway Roller Skate'. Sadly I can’t find a copy anywhere to include in this round-up, but if you are lucky enough to have read it as a child then you will understand! It was full of bonkers characters and amazing landscapes - even without my parents reading it to me I would enjoy simply looking at the pictures. So that’s where it all began!
I ended up marrying an illustrator, and running my own art gallery selling illustrative print-making – not surprising really!
I thought a little round-up of some of my favourite illustrated children’s books would be a nice feature. My goodness me, this was much harder than I ever imagined. I love so many that this post would have contained about a hundred books! So I have whittled them down to a selection of my favourites and I hope you like them too.
Watch out for my next round of recommendations in time for Christmas!
Illustrated by Ellen Giggenbach, published by Templar Publishing
This was one of Noah's favourite books when he was a baby. Its spot colors and varnishes make it tactile for little ones, its bright bold colours keep their attention and hurrah it’s a bit educational too! Templar very kindly sent me a new copy for this feature because Noah had completely destroyed our copy after reading and chewing it so much!
Ellen Giggenbach is a New Zealand designer whose work adorns greetings cards and gift wrap across the world! (Oh and I sell her original art works at Boxbird…)
By Christopher Franceschelli, illustrated by Peskimo, published by Abrams Appleseed
A chunky hardback book with fantastically fun illustrations for each letter of the alphabet. This is a fantastic gift for pre-schoolers who are getting to grips with letters. Peskimo are a husband-and-wife team who work creating both commercial illustration and a stunning range of limited edition prints… (which indecently we also sell at Boxbird!)
www.peskimo.com | Twitter @Peskimo
By Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Jon Klassen, published by Orchard Books
This book has a big shiny gold sticker on the front cover quoting the Sunday Times describing it as 'A picture book not to be missed'. They are absolutely right. This is not only a stunning example of contemporary children’s book illustration it’s also a wonderful, simple, yet slightly chilling story. (Don’t worry it has a nice ending!) There are not many children’s books that can get away with having almost entire pages of black in them but this one most certainly does. Jon Klassen is one of my favorite illustrators - I really struggled between this book and ‘I want My Hat Back’, which if you are not familiar with I urge you to buy right now.
jonklassen.tumblr.com | Twitter @burstofbeaden
'Laika the Astronaut'
Written & illustrated by Owen Davey, published by Templar Publishing
This sad story of Laika, the first dog sent to space, is given a lovely and far more optimistic ending by writer and illustrator Owen Davey. The artwork in this book is stunning. From the Russian technology to the animals of the world, Davey brings them all to life in what I think is some of the best UK illustration around.
www.owendavey.com | Twitter @owendaveydraws
'Under the Ocean'
By Anouck Boisrobert & Louis Rigaud, published by Tate
Probably the most beautiful pop-up book I’ve seen in a long time! Follow the ‘Oceano’ from its port on its adventures across the oceans and peek into the world above and below the ocean. The detail in this book is amazing, the coral reef being my absolute favourite page. Do not leave small children with this, they will destroy it in seconds! My boy is four and is really good at reading this carefully and not tearing it!
anouckboisrobert.fr | ludocube.fr
Written & illustrated by Benji Davies, published by Simon & Schuster
Well I don’t think a children’s book has ever made me cry, but this stunning new publication written and illustrated by Benji Davies managed to do just that to me and my husband! The story of a little boy and his grandad, and how saying goodbye can be hard.
But story aside the illustration is amazing, from the beautifully detailed house and attics, the wonderfully bushy-bearded grandad to the bright, bold and striking jungles, this book has it all. A must-have for every children’s bookcase. Also, be sure to check out Benji Davies' stunning 'Storm Whale' and the absurdly brilliant 'When The Dragons Came', both of which are bedtime favorites in our house.
www.benjidavies.com | Twitter @Benji_Davies
'Mr Peek and the Misunderstanding at the Zoo'
Written & illustrated by Kevin Waldron, published by Templar Publishing
This is such a silly book! I love it and so does Noah. This is silly voice heaven, and a brilliant book to read with kids as they can make animal noises galore! The illustration has a slightly crude edge to it, which simply adds to the charm and the freedom of it. The colours are bold and the animals have the best faces. This book doesn’t seem to be on many people’s radars - none of my friends with kids own it - but I think it’s a really underestimated children’s book.
www.kevinwaldron.co.uk | Twitter @Kevinjwaldron