By guest poster Miriam Latimer
I love kids books. Not only do I write and illustrate them, but I have a collection of them on my shelf in my studio which I gaze at on a regular basis to inspire me and remind me why I love my job so much.
I am inspired by quirky, clever, beautiful, and colourful kids books.
This isn’t really a countdown of the 10 best kids books, it is more a collection of some of my favourite kids books and illustrators. Enjoy!
No 1. ‘The Story Blanket’ illustrated by Elena Odriozola
Elena Odriozola is a Spanish illustrator and she is one of my favourite illustrators at the moment. This book is illustrated so beautifully: She illustrates so delicately with a combination of white space and colourful detail. I wish I could leave as much white space as her in my illustrations, but I can’t help filling each page with colour. Another book of hers is called ‘The Opposite’ which I also love.
No 2: ‘Prince Silencio’ by Anne Herbauts
My University tutor introduced me to the French illustrator Anne Herbauts and I have been a fan ever since. I met her once, and she wasn’t the friendliest of people, but that doesn’t take away any love I have for her quirky illustrations.
This book is about a Prince who has to keep the silence. She cleverly uses white space around the Prince to represent his silence, and for the babbling crowd she uses lots of bright colour and wonderful textures and fabrics to represent their noise. One of my favourites x
No 3. The Chicken of the Family’ illustrated by Delphine Durand
Can you spot a theme going on here? I love books and illustrators from Europe!
This is one of the best books of all time. It is so funny, and French illustrator Delphine Durand’s illustrations suit the story down to the ground. It is a hilarious story of two girls who try and convince their sister that she is a chicken. Love it! She has also done a book called ‘Bob and Co’ which is absolute genius. It is a book designed more for adults but it is one of the funniest and off the wall books I have ever read. You can tell that she is a bit zany. I love the books she chooses to illustrate.
No 4. ‘Lost and Found’ by Oliver Jeffers
I’m sure you all know Oliver Jeffers’ books. Adults and kids alike love them. He takes adult concepts and simplifies them to make such clever and beautiful kids books. Kids books are really a small part of what he does. I also love his paintings. They remind me of Magritte’s art. He is clever and amazingly talented.
The animation of this book is also well worth a watch.
No 5. ‘Dear Diary’ by Sara Fanelli
This Italian Illustrator takes quirky to another level.
She uses collage, drawing and her own hand drawn typography to produce such interesting books. This book has the same story told from different view points, a girl, the dog, even the chair. LOVE IT! I’d love to step into her head just for one day.
No 6. ‘De Boomhut’ by Marije and Ronald Tolman
This book won a Bologna book fair prize in 2010. It is collaboration between a father and daughter from the Netherlands. It is a book without words, so you can change the story every time you read it. I love kids books with no words. The illustrations do all the talking.
It is a beautiful book, one that everyone can appreciate. Definitely worth a look.
No 7. ‘La Rumeur do Venice’ illustrated by Albertine
This is another French kids book with no words. It was also a winner of a Bologna book fair prize.
Albertine uses a mixture of drawing and collage to tell the story of a rumour which travels through Venice about the size of a fish. So simple, but so clever. The book can also unfold into one long continuous picture, which I have even thought of framing on my wall.
No 8. ‘Wolves’ by Emily Gravet
At last, an English Illustrator who I like! This is an award-winning book about a rabbit who gets a book about wolves out of the library.
I love the fact that this is not a typical story that an English Publisher would choose to publish. They are normally very safe in what they choose to publish but this book is a bit different. It has two endings, one of which is quite a brutal one, so refreshing! It is funny and illustrated with some collage bits in there too, which really work well along side the story.
No 9. ‘The Shopping Basket’ by John Burningham
This book I had as a child, and I will always remember it as one of my favourites.
A weedy looking boy goes shopping and meets lots of animals on his way home, who try and take his shopping. In the end he outsmarts them, and makes it home. I remember loving the naughty animals along the way, and how the boy eventually overcomes those naughty bullying animals. It brings back such good memories.
No 10. ‘The Tail of the Whale’ illustrated by Christine Pym and ‘Jedereen Prinses’ illustrated by Merel Eyckerman
I couldn’t choose between these two for my number 10 so they are along side each other. These two illustrators are both represented by the same agent as me – ‘Plum Pudding’. I gaze at their work all the time, and wish I could illustrate like them. They both illustrate so delicately with such good use of colour. They also illustrate characters with such personality. What a wonderful pair to end on.
About Miriam: I studied Illustration at UWE, Bristol, gaining a 1st class honours. I have had children's books published by Hodder, Barefoot Books and Kingfisher. I have had work published in 'Illustration' magazine and work selected for AOI Images book. I have done various editorial work. I always carry my sketchbook. I love marzipan and I hate slugs.
See Miriam's beautiful illustrative work here