John Burningham’s Magical Seasons

I’m always saying “you can’t really get an impression of this book from my scans”.  But in the case of John Burningham’s Seasons, that is truer than ever.  Each (large) page is filled edge to edge with pattern and texture, and the book contains four fold out sections (one for each season) each of which folds out to about A2 size.  Huge!


The illustrations are rich and varied – a combination of ink and crayon soaked, washed, scratched, layered and scrubbed into life. More

Hugo Pepper by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell

I’ve been meaning to write about Hugo Pepper for a while.  It fits into the same world as Corby Flood, and if possible, I enjoyed it even more.


In Short: Some years ago in the remote Frozen North, baby Hugo was found in the wreckage of a strange contraption; half sled, half balloon.   Ten years later Hugo Pepper decides to return to the home he never knew – the town of Harbour Heights.   He befriends the inhabitants of Firefly Square who remember his parents with love.  They accept Hugo into their hearts as though he was family.  But all is not well in Harbour Heights.  Hugo’s new friends are at the mercy of an unscrupulous villain.  Hugo hoped to learn more about his parents, but instead he uncovers a tangled web of tragic love, thwarted ambition, blackmail and lost treasure that ties all their stories together.

What I thought: This is a very special little book.  It is a warm, absurd and funny story with just enough sadness to keep you hooked.  It is a story about stories.  The villain of the piece, Elliot de Mille, has taken the once wonderful publication The Firefly Quarterly – that used to be a collection of marvellous and rare folk tales – and turned it into a spiteful tabloid filled with lies and innuendo. More

Peter and the Wolf by Victor Ambrus

I love Peter and the Wolf.  We used to have a recording of it with the narration in German.   Even now, the music evokes the German phrases: “Der Große, Graue WOLF! Ta Daaaaaaaaaa!” wolfbit

Victor Ambrus’s illustrations are fabulous.  They remind me rather of  Adelchi Galloni.  Rough and lively, but delicate too.

Here is Peter: More

Patchwork Cat – Nichola Bayley

First the mouse, and now the cat! Here is a companion piece to my previous post about Markus MouseLiep Lap die Lappies Kat (translates as Patch the Patchwork Cat) is  a similar, sleepy time story, and the illustrations by Nicola Bayley have the same loving attention to small and seemingly insignificant details.  Both books have the same delight in the creature being depicted.  1

Only a cat lover can draw like this:


Markus Mouse by Maria Majewska

I’ve been enjoying looking at Maria Majewska’s illustrations of Markus Muis se Nuwe Huis ( Marcus Mouse’s New House). I like the way she uses pattern and treats all surfaces with equal attention.  And I like how she draws everything with such respect for what it is.


The story is about Marcus Mouse’s search for a comfortable home.  He starts off in his overcrowded family home: More

Ernest in the Wild West by Ermanno Libenzi, illustrated by Adelchi Galloni

When I was a child, we had a book called Robin and the Pirates. You could spend hours pouring over it, and each time you would find something even more exciting and alarming.  I think my sister has got that book, but luckily I found another by the same author and illustrator:  Ernest in the Wild West written by Ermanno Libenzi and illustrated by Adelchi Galloni. He is capable of working in a remarkable variety of styles, as you can see from this page.


It has all the qualities I loved in Robin and the Pirates:  pages crammed full of deliciously scary pictures, funny and edgy and really quite surreal.  Not your average children’s book at all. More

December’s Travels – Dusan Kallay & Mischa Damjan

I wonder what I would have thought of December’s Travels if I’d read it as a child.  Many of the children’s books I love now I found too intense when I was little. December’s Travels is illustrated by the Slovakian illustrator Dussan Kallay:


The story, by Yugoslavian Mischa Damjan tells what happens when the month of December decides to visit the other months in the year.  Here is December preparing toys for Christmas: More

Drogman by Stepan Zavrel

Every time I write about a book that I read when I was a child I want to say “my favourite”.  But Drogman has a special place in my heart. The story is magical.  Its romantic, with scary bits and a clever heroine.  It takes place mostly underwater which is something that has always fascinated me.    I particularly love the range of underwater colours, and the way the bleeding blobby ink style lends itself to watery scenes:bit2

The illustrations are simply stunning.  I cannot really give even a glimpse of them here, as every single page is a huge sumptuous double page spread.  Ive had to crop out little details just to give an idea.  More

Corby Flood by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell

Title:Corby Flood
Author:Paul Stewart
Chris Riddell
Series :
Part of the “Far Flung Adventures”  Not so much a series as a set of related books that can be read separately too.


In Short: Corby Flood is travelling with her family aboard the decrepit cruise ship the SS Euphonia. There is plenty to keep Corby’s mind off the new school waiting for her at the journey’s end.  Who is the man from Cabin 21?  Why is Mr Times New Roman, leader of the Brotherhood of Clowns, in such a foul temper?  And above all – what is the source of the saddest song echoing out of the cargo hold?


What I thought:
I  loved this book.   It is simply crammed with fabulous characters and places. More

Franklin Stein by Ellen Raskin

I found this lovely bright little book by writer / illustrator Ellen Raskin.  It was published in 1972:


I’m fascinated by the illustration style which seems to be planned for the way the book was printed.    I love the way the colours are separated and overprinted to create other shades, and how the black  line ties everything together: More

Wonderful Life by Helen Ward

I’ve found another writer / illustrator:  Helen Ward.  I have quite a few of her books already, but they are all illustrated by Wayne Anderson so I never twigged.  I found Wonderful Life at a book sale and promptly bought two copies.


It is the story of a little creature, an Ift called Snutt.  Snutt is an explorer and a dreamer who travels through space finding life all over the universe: More

Some more dreamy drawings

Today winter really begins to bite.  I can feel that cold in the air that means that snow has fallen on the mountains somewhere.  Its the perfect weather to sit in front of the heater and draw.


Here is another page from my sketchbook.  I’ve been experimenting with coloured pencil and ink: More

John Howe’s World: Strange and Familiar

Sometimes I find an illustrator who captures on paper what I imagine as I read.  This is especially  rare for old favourites like The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings that have been growing in my imagination since childhood.  But when I look at the drawings and paintings by John Howe, I recognise people and places I have known all my life.


I’ve been enjoying myself digging through his unusually thorough and entertaining site. and am sharing some of my favourites here.  More

Day Dream Homes

When I was a child, one of my favourite day dreams was building my own home.  It was usually underground, inside a tree or under water, and often featured wall-sized fish tanks.  I’ve gathered together a number of fictional homes and rooms that inspired my day-dreams then and now.


First off – the familiar classics, starting with Bilbo Baggins’s own Bag End: More

Masha’s Visual Dairy Diary

A while ago, Brendon gave me a little sketchbook to get me drawing again, which he decorated in typical style:


I’ve filled it at last, and started another one.  I’ve already shared some drawings from this book  at my post on doodle meetings, and pictures that have lost their stories.

Here are some of the early drawings from my little book. More

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