advent IN INK

Each day this advent, I'm going to paint an illustration for some of my favourite books, roughly in the order that I read them (or had them read to me).

I loved the #inktober challenge so much, I don't really want to stop, so hopefully this project will give me some new momentum!

Scroll down below the calendar to read more about why I've chosen each book and see the individual illustrations.



The Tiger Who Came To Tea

It's impossible to begin anywhere else; I still have the dog-eared copies of The Tiger Who Came to Tea and Mog that were read to me as a child and when I grow up, I want to be Judith Kerr. Hear her on Desert Island Discs here, and read her wonderful, recent Guardian interview here.

Burglar Bill

"That's a nice tin of beans," says Burglar Bill. "I'll have that!"

I don't think I've consumed a single baked bean since the age of five without thinking of that sentence. I could have chosen any one of Janet and Allan Ahlberg's perfect books (I know the words to Each Peach Pear Plum at least as well as my own phone number and our family copy of Peepo is approximately 30% sellotape) but I'll always have a huge soft spot for Burglar Bill. Magnus Magpie certainly owes him a lot.

Where's Julius?

The Library Van used to stop outside the Red Cow, not far from my Grandma and Grandpa's house. Grandpa would take me and I'd usually borrow Jon Burningham's Where's Julius? When I rediscovered it as an adult, the words "Julius says he cannot have lunch with us just at the moment because he is cooling the hippopotamuses in the Lombo Bombo River in Central Africa with buckets of muddy water" had the same effect on me as the smell of Pear's soap or the taste of thick Staffordshire honey on even thicker white bread. A kind of bittersweet mixture of comfort and loss.

Brambly Hedge

Jill Barklem's cosy hedgerows inspired so many of our childhood games and most of the stories I started writing when I was little. Some of my most magical book-memories belong to Brambly Hedge.Quite a big part of me still longs to believe than inside every tree are beautifully dressed mice who sleep in four poster beds and drink from china teacups. There's a lovely Guardian piece about Jill Barklem, who died just a few weeks ago, here.

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

This must have been one of the first 'chapter' books my mum read to me. I remember her borrowing it from the library and being so excited about sharing it with me. Later, when I knew the story backwards, I followed my grandma round the house as she cleaned, describing the whole plot from start to finish; I have such a strong memory of her dusting the dresser during the battle. I've been doing quite a lot of Narnia illustrations lately, so, for a change, I've chosen Mr Beaver, offering Lucy's handkerchief as proof of his honesty: "They all looked at it in surprise, till suddenly Lucy said, "Oh, of course. It's my handkerchief - the one I gave to poor Mr Tumnus."