Friday, 11 May 2012

Collections: Children's Books

In honour of Children's Book Week I thought I'd share a teeny portion of one of my largest collections...children's books! You might think that most of these have survived from when I was a child but you'd be wrong. I started collecting kids books in a big way when I was at university. I was doing a kids book illustration module and happened upon a huuuge amount of ex-library books that were between 10-30p and went a little mad buying them up haha. I'd collected in dribs and drabs before that but this is what really set me to it.
This is my recent haul from the Hartlepool Hospice shop Encore. They have a really big selection there and they are usually 50p or below. There were several cat themed ones including Grumpy Cat, Slinky Malinki and Who Will Play With Me? I particularly like Who Will Play With Me? Which is a weird combination book that has two stories that meet in the middle (one about a cat, one about a boy) which require you to flip the book. 

Anyway I'll run through a small selection of my favorites. To be fair I don't generally buy kids books unless there is something about them that I like but it'd be a realllly long post if I wanted to talk about them all!

Title: Wild Animals
Author/Illustrator: Brian Wildsmith
This is a real oldie and I'm pretty sure this was a book my mam bought because she liked it. It's ex-library, as a lot of our books were when we were kids and it remains awesome. Wildsmith has this vibrant paint style that looks like a child's painting...if a child was reallly good. Story wise there really isn't any, it's just what you call different groups of animals but I remember spending hours staring at the images and trying to duplicate the style when I was little.
Title: Lost and Found
Author/Illustrator: Oliver Jeffers
When I was at university a lot of people had a huge love for this guy and I never really got it. I think it was only when I saw the short animation of Lost and Found that I really grew to love the simplicity of his books and style and understand why kids are so mad about Mr Jeffers.

Title: Storyland
Author/Illustrator: Various
I bought this book at a second hand market for 50p. I don't often go to markets because I don't really like haggling and as such probably end up paying premium...that and I prefer the warmth of a charity shop! It's a gorgeous book from 1960 with the most amazing colourful selection of illustrations. Some day I'd love to make some jewellry and t-shirts with them on because I love them that much. In terms of story I haven't actually read any but the short ones yet but they seem pretty old school and classic on that front!

Title: What-A-Mess and the Cat-Next-Door
Author/Illustrator: Frank Muir
All of us loved What-A-Mess in my family but oddly we only kept one book and they are really hard to come by these days...I think they are all out of print sadly. That said I think I've bought a few second hand since then. The appeal of What-A-Mess lay a little in the hapless main character and her antics (I think it was a she) but mostly in the lovely, complex illustrations. They always had so much going on with a huge cast of characters on every page and it was really fun trying to spot everything that was happening in them.

Title: A House is a House for Me
Author: Mary Ann Hoberman
Illustrator: Betty Fraser
This is probably my favorite kids book of all time. A combination of rhyming words that teach us about how pretty much everything is a house for something combined with beautifully complicated and interesting illustrations made me adore this book as a child. It also has an Alice in Wonderland spread in it...what's not to love?!

Title: Can't You Sleep Little Bear?
Author: Martin Waddell
Illustrator: Barbara Firth
I remember this book from when I was very young but this isn't my original copy of it, rather it's a copy I picked up in a charity shop for not very much. It's a lovely story and appealed to me when I was a child because I was such a terrible sleeper and terrified of the dark. I'm still a terrible sleeper but the dark doesn't bother me!

Title: Tale of a One-Way Street
Author: Joan Aiken
Illustrator: Jan Pienkowski
This book is full of beautiful illustrations but is a more recent purchase. However I do have another book called 'A Necklace of Raindrops' that is by Joan Aiken and illustrated in the same style by Jan Pienkowski (of Meg and Mog fame) which I adored as a child. I've used Pienkowski's illustrations in these books many a time when teaching classes on silohuette art. Despite being silohuettes they are always complicated, magical and set on cleverly colourful backdrops. I have to say I prefer these to Meg and Mog, although maybe I liked Meg and Mog more when I was young!

Okay that was a loooong post but I thought it was appropriate to share a wee bit of my collection this week of all weeks!


  1. Wow you got some great books! I love the illustrations in all of them, especially the Alice in Wonderland and Tale of a one-way street. These take me back! :)

    1. Hey Renee! Glad to have taken you back to your childhood. That's one thing I love about kid's my opinion you're never too old to enjoy them!