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The Best Illustrated Children's Books


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#1 lordcookie

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Posted 12 October 2007 - 01:59 PM

I know a few people on this forum are interested in writing/illustrating children's books so I thought it might be nice to get a recommendations list and why the books are so good. Whilst my area of interest in mainly TV I have been contemplating the book route but would like some sources of inspiration.
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#2 Twinbee

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Posted 12 October 2007 - 02:28 PM

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Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendax
Rich with detail. Perfectly communicates the wild imaginary worlds we all dreamed for ourselves as kids. The monsters look fearsome, but not too scary. Wonderful book.



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Miffy - Dick Bruna
Beautiful in its simplicity. Fantastic colourscheme. Almost illegally cute.


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Anything by Richard Scarry
Really organic, fun illustrations. Fab anthropomorphism. Genuinely laugh-out-loud drawings and situations. And he drew vehicles brilliantly.



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Meg and Mog - Jan Pienkowski
Similar to Miffy in terms of simplicity and colours. Mog is SO full of character.


Too busy to write more at the mo, but these are the first things off my head. Children's books can be so delightful :(
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#3 Spudulis

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Posted 12 October 2007 - 02:31 PM

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By a country mile. Was my absolute favourite book growing up. Every time we went to the library my Mum would try to get me to take another book out but I always went for that one again and again.

Its great. Its about a kid who likes messing about and his strict Aunt decides to teach him a lesson and gets Captain Najork and his Hired Sportmen to beat him at various games but he wins because they are all just like messing about. Great story and Quentin Blake is just unparalelled in his childen's story illustration.
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#4 Spudulis

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Posted 12 October 2007 - 02:34 PM

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I used to love Richard Scarry books too. They always had so much detail. You could look at the pages for ages and see little stories going on everywhere.
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#5 lordcookie

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Posted 12 October 2007 - 02:43 PM

Some classic selections already. I have to say, I never liked any of Scarry's books as a child. His art style never appealed to me for some reason.

Today I ordered...

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Polar Bear Night by Lauren Thompson and Stephen Savage

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Sophie's Masterpiece: A Spider's Tale by Eileen Spinelli and Jane Dyer

They both have interesting artwork and excellent reviews. I'll report back on what they are like when they arrive.
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#6 Spudulis

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Posted 12 October 2007 - 02:54 PM

Wow that Polar Bear one looks amazing

Twinbee's post reminded me of this

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Best pop up book we had. Was just brilliant. Beautifully drawn and there was something in it that was on every page. Can;t remember what it was I think a cat. But anyway it was a really nice little touch that got you really searching the page to try to find it.
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#7 Hewson

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Posted 12 October 2007 - 03:05 PM

One of the key British guys to look at is Anthony Brown. His work is amazingly dense, and a real example of pictures that children will still be finding things in for years and years after they've first set eyes on them. There's an interview with him here:

http://books.guardia...,348137,00.html

One of the finest picture books I've ever seen is The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by an American called Chris Van Allsburg who also wrote Jumanji. The idea is that an aspiring writer/illustrator drops off fourteen pictures, each with a line from the accompanying story and the title to his publisher, but is never heard from again and so the stories themselves are never found. It's absolutely glorious and infused with a sense of surrealism and gothic Americana. His website is here: http://www.chrisvana....com/flash.html and you can see a few pictures from it on the site.
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#8 FozZ

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Posted 12 October 2007 - 03:05 PM

Not necessarily amazingly illustrated, but almost everyone has read this at some stage when growing up, so it can't be overlooked.

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#9 lordcookie

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Posted 12 October 2007 - 03:17 PM

The front cover of The Mysteries of Harris Burdick looks amazing. I've always liked his artwork but never bought any of his books. But I think I might give that one a go.

Anybody read Neil Gaiman's The Wolves in the Walls? Any good?
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#10 Twinbee

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Posted 12 October 2007 - 03:22 PM

One of the key British guys to look at is Anthony Brown. His work is amazingly dense, and a real example of pictures that children will still be finding things in for years and years after they've first set eyes on them. There's an interview with him here:

http://books.guardia...,348137,00.html

There's a real sadness to some of his books too. I'm guessing he's quite anti-zoo, as the apes and that in the books of his I've seen always look desperately unhappy. Check out some of the american reviews of 'Zoo'.

As a modern choice, the 'Olivia' books are rather cute, and the charcoal/red colourscheme works really nicely.

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#11 Twinbee

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Posted 12 October 2007 - 03:26 PM

Anybody read Neil Gaiman's The Wolves in the Walls? Any good?

Yeah, although I can't quite remember how it ends. I've got it at home, along with 'The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish", both illustrated by Dave McKean.

I've been a keen McKean (sorry) fan for years, and the illustrations are wonderful, although I'd be interested to find out what a child thinks about them, as I'm usually marvelling at the techniques, etc. And the story is funny enough for parents to enjoy too.

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They did a stage production of Wolves in the Walls, too. Would've liked to have seen it...
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#12 Hewson

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Posted 12 October 2007 - 03:35 PM

The front cover of The Mysteries of Harris Burdick looks amazing. I've always liked his artwork but never bought any of his books. But I think I might give that one a go.


Do track it down - it's an incredible example of how little you need to ignite imagination. There's a glorious picture of a typical clapperboard house lifting off like a rocket. When I was a teacher it was one of the best ways of getting difficult children (particularly boys) to start writing creatively.


There's a real sadness to some of his books too.


Spot on. I seem to remember that he started off illustrating medical journals and publications, often drawing cadavers and diseased organs. There's a huge amount to his work, and if you're a fan of Magritte you'll love him even more. A Walk in the Park is one of his finest and has exactly that sad, autumnal tone to it.
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#13 lordcookie

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Posted 12 October 2007 - 03:36 PM

I think I'll just pick it up. I've always loved the concept of the book.
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#14 c-cat114

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Posted 12 October 2007 - 03:41 PM

I'm doing illustrated narrative with As level students at the moment and we've been looking at Pienkowski's, Olivia, Man on the Moon, The escape of the Krollsnork (which is utterly ace), the Sheep books whose name I can't remember and the books are all at college.. Russel the sheep? Quick search on!

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Anyhow the daddy of them all is... well, anything by Lane Smith but I'm surprised noones mentioned the Stinky Cheese Man yet.

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Also I'm a sucker for Korky Paul and Lauren Child. Korky especially is ace:

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Actually I've got loads of children's books. I'm a sucker for them and fortunatley wifey is a primary school teacher as well so they do tend to get bought pretty often.

Favo pop up book:

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Doesn't look it from the cover maybe but it's lovely. Derek Matthews books are ace as well. Also Ten Minutes to Bedtime is fantata.
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#15 c-cat114

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Posted 12 October 2007 - 03:42 PM

And it's almost an adult book but the illustrations in Michael Rosen's Sad Book by Quentin Blake are uterly poignant and touching and heartbreaking.
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#16 Nick R

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Posted 12 October 2007 - 03:44 PM

Ah, this topic has just reminded me of my favourite book when I was 4 years old, which I haven't thought about in years...

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Also I'm a sucker for Korky Paul and Lauren Child. Korky especially is ace:

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If it's pirates you want, you can't get much better than this:

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No lewd jokes about the title, please. :(
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#17 lordcookie

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Posted 12 October 2007 - 03:45 PM

C-Cat, what is the pop-up book as the image isn't loading?
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#18 jeebus

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Posted 12 October 2007 - 03:47 PM

Some classics there but my favourites are:

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Anything by Raymond Briggs, especially Fungus the Bogeyman - all the little details and side notes in that are fantastic
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#19 Hewson

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Posted 12 October 2007 - 03:50 PM

I have to second Stinky Cheese Man. Absolutely brilliant, especially the contents page falling on Chicken Licken's head.
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#20 c-cat114

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Posted 12 October 2007 - 03:51 PM

The giraffe who could cock a doodle do by Jonathon Lambert (illustrator and paper mechanic). He's heading up Templar in Dorking and I've worked with him a couple of times and he's just a really nice fella. The art style is loads of fun and the paper tech is very clever. I tried to reverse engineer it with a class of ND students once and we got in all sorts of trouble...

Also I love the illustrations in Captain Bluebear
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and ...doh brain freeze.. what's the book with the cabbageheads and boxtrolls? Ratbridge!

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Also I'm getting to meet up with Kitamura during the Guildford Book Fest which I'm looking forward to...

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#21 lordcookie

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Posted 12 October 2007 - 03:52 PM

I feel I must have missed out on something major then as a child as I have never heard of Stinky Cheese Man.
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#22 c-cat114

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Posted 12 October 2007 - 03:58 PM

It was HUGE in America as I understand it and pretty well regarded here around 7 or so years ago... Top, top artwork though.

Also I like the Book that Jack wrote a lot as well.

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#23 evilwallpaper

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Posted 12 October 2007 - 04:18 PM

I always remember

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#24 LaParka

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Posted 12 October 2007 - 04:25 PM

I just bought this :(

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Synopsis
When the Queen Mum passed on, you all thought it ended there. Not so. Ascending to heaven and meeting up with the likes of Arthur Askey and Kurt Cobain was just the start of a new direction in her afterlife. God had a mission for her - to return to earth and fight crime and general wrong-doing. First, the mugger she persuades to go straight, then the supermodel off the rails who lands a lucrative sporran franchise. Then there's the biggie - global warming - but first she has to fight off an eager Mother Theresa for the case. This is a gentle, funny book, told in Harry Hill's inimitable comic style and illustrated with his own full-colour artwork.
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#25 Paradigm

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Posted 12 October 2007 - 07:37 PM

Are there any illustrators on here who would like to draw a kids' book?
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#26 Jim Miles

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Posted 12 October 2007 - 10:46 PM

Ah, this topic has just reminded me of my favourite book when I was 4 years old, which I haven't thought about in years...

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250 on amazon marketplace!!!
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#27 Blobcat

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Posted 13 October 2007 - 09:56 AM

I just bought this :wub:

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Synopsis
When the Queen Mum passed on, you all thought it ended there. Not so. Ascending to heaven and meeting up with the likes of Arthur Askey and Kurt Cobain was just the start of a new direction in her afterlife. God had a mission for her - to return to earth and fight crime and general wrong-doing. First, the mugger she persuades to go straight, then the supermodel off the rails who lands a lucrative sporran franchise. Then there's the biggie - global warming - but first she has to fight off an eager Mother Theresa for the case. This is a gentle, funny book, told in Harry Hill's inimitable comic style and illustrated with his own full-colour artwork.


That sounds like the most amazing story ever! If I wasnt still waiting for my Amazon purchae I got a month ago, i'd order it right now.

I was going to mention 'im coming to get you' and 'stinky cheese man' but they have already been posted.

One of my favorite childerens books was Molly Whuppie, it was darkly illustrated and I cant find it anywhere! Cant remember the illustrator. Really quite creepy the scary scenes
EDIT - Just done some investigating...Errol Le Cain. Othe books hes illustrated look just as nice

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Anything by Anthony Browne but especially GORRILA

If you don't know the story, its about a girl who loves gorrilas and really wants to go to the zoo on her birthday. Her father is always too busy for her and gets her a cuddly gorrila for her birthday, who she throws off her bed. It comes to life and take her out for the day.

I love the hidden and 'gorrila' images in it

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The Worldly pig

Nice scratchy handdrawn illustrations about Chester who is a fed up pig at a farm. He learns to balance on his nose and eventually runs away and gets pignapped by some tramps, escapes and makes it to the circus. Unfortunatly, after some sucess he decides to lave and become a fat pig at his old farm where he is broght to the circus again, for a different reason...

Not the best illustarted book ever but i used to really like it as a child.
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#28 FargalEX

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Posted 13 October 2007 - 10:09 AM

Stinky Cheese Man was always my favourite when I was little.
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#29 ras el hanout

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Posted 13 October 2007 - 12:12 PM

The best kid's book by about a billion miles are the Gruffalo ones.
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#30 ristar

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Posted 13 October 2007 - 12:54 PM

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Anything by Anthony Browne but especially GORRILA


I always found that book entertainingly intimidating :wub:
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