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BOOK OF THE MONTH

Our April Book of the Month is Drawn from the Archive: Hidden Histories of Illustration by Sarah Lawrence with a foreword by Jacqueline Wilson, reviewed by Welcome Assistant Suzy Trevethan.

Drawn from the Archive: Hidden Histories of Illustration
RRP £9.99

This charming book looks at illustrators of children’s books from the 1930s to 2013 and will appeal to anybody who is interested in children’s books, illustration, or both.  The cover image features Judith Kerr’s famous Tiger Who Came to Tea (1968), and inside are many other recognisable childhood favourites.  

It is very interesting to see the sketches, drafts and storyboards that went towards the finished books that so many children (and adults) know and love. Sarah Lawrence’s text complements the pictures beautifully and includes lots of interesting facts about the books, the illustrators and their techniques and approaches to story illustration.

Pat Hutchins and Shirley Hughes were childhood favourites of mine and I, like Jacqueline Wilson, love Ruth Gervis’s illustrations for Noel Streatfeild’s Ballet Shoes (1936) – they are so perfect for the characters of the Fossil sisters, and so evocative of the 1930s, that it is perhaps not surprising that the book is still in print with its original illustrations.

It was fascinating to learn that Ruth Gervis and Noel Streatfeild were sisters and that the editor who commissioned the illustrations for Ballet Shoes from Gervis was unaware of this. The sisters lived in St Leonards from 1902 to 1911 when their father was vicar of St Peter’s in Cornfield Terrace.

Some of the illustrators featured in this book were new to me, and I have fallen in love with Jan Ormerod’s illustrations for Sunshine (1981) and Polly Dunbar’s illustrations for My Dad’s a Birdman (2007).  It is interesting, too, to compare the different styles and approaches to illustration and to get a feel for some of the original drawings.

This book is not only a beautiful thing in itself but a great source of inspiration for choosing books for children. I am tempted to buy many of the featured books for children that I know!

Proceeds from Drawn from the Archive go to support Seven Stories, National Centre for Children’s Books. You can learn more about Seven Stories here.

Jerwood Gallery shop is open whenever the gallery is open and don’t forget, you can visit the shop anytime for free, without visiting the gallery. 

25 April, 2016
Written by Suzy Trevethan