One of my earliest memories of a children’s book I loved, is ‘The First Thousand Words’ by Heather Amery and Stephen Cartwright. Apart from helping young children to learn to read, this wonderful book is all about identifying and searching for particular objects on each spread. It‘s beautifully illustrated and for those of you who also remember this book, you’ll probably (most definitely) remember the iconic little yellow duck peeping out from amongst the objects on each page. I don’t know about you, but looking for that little yellow duck was one of the highlights of this book for me, and would keep me amused for hours! I think this book had more of a profund effect on me than I realised; as now, working as a professional author/illustrator, I find myself hiding cute little animals on each page of my picture books for the reader to spot, hopefully enhancing their reading experience.
Another classic from my childhood, which is still loved by many today, is ‘Not Now, Bernard’ by David McKee. A brilliant and simple story, and surprisingly dark! Poor Bernard ends up getting eaten, (Sorry for the spoiler there!) and the monster gets to enjoy eating Bernard‘s dinner and breaking his toys! The subtle humour in the book can be appreciated by all ages. It’s the book’s simplicity and ability to tell a memorable story that really appealed, and still appeals to me now. This is something I consider every day when writing and illustrating. Sometimes less is more, and I do believe this book is a timeless classic.
I was also an avid reader of ‘The Worst Witch’ series, by Jill Murphy. Both the writing and illustrations had a deep impact on me for the rest of my life. I always dreamt of writing or illustrating something as brilliant as ‘The Worst Witch’, and that dream became a reality when I was offered the job to illustrate the fantastic new ‘Witch Wars’ series by the ridiculously talented Sibeal Pounder. Whilst I have my own style of working, I do believe one of my biggest inspirations is and always will be Jill Murphy’s beautiful imagery from ‘The Worst Witch’.
One more (I could go on forever…) and this may come as no surprise, but Roald Dahl’s ‘The Witches’, had me completely hooked as a kid. I vividly remember having my nose buried deep in the book whilst walking along the school corridor, up and down the stairs, to and from my lessons. Not to mention the hilarious illustrations by, none other than, Quentin Blake. An illustration hero for most. Certainly for me! I had the pleasure of visiting Quentin Blake’s exhibition at The House of Illustration last year, and my oh my, I didn’t think I could be more blown away by his work; but I was. The freedom of his line work, and the sporadic watercolour washes… It’s just so stunning to see, both in print, and as original paintings. I can’t think of anyone else who could have illustrated Roald Dahl’s books in quite the same charming way as Mr Blake. A HUGE inspiration for someone like me.
You can find a fantastic selection of books written and illustrated by Laura Ellen Anderson on our website.