Bookshelf Travelling in Insane Times

This week in Bookshelf Travelling in Insane Times which is hosted by Judith at Reader in the Wilderness I’m focusing on books for children (of all ages).

Children's Bookshelf

This shelf is in the smallest spare bedroom of our home and when we moved here after Jack retired I grabbed it as a sort of hobby room of my own for my stuff, which includes books and sewing/crafting materials. It is not at all tidy in fact sometimes the whole place resembles a burst cushion, but if you are a crafter you’ll probably understand how that comes about!

Anyway the shelf is home to a lot of classic children’s illustrated books – Winnie the Pooh, The Secret Garden, Peter Pan, The Wind in the Willows, European fairy tales and others.

I love Kate Greenaway’s illustrations although some people complain that her figures aren’t well proportioned. I sort of agree but they are very charming and the copy of The Pied Piper of Hamelin by Robert Browning is lovely. Apparently the book was first published in 1888 with wood block designs engraved by Edward Evans. You can see some of the Kate Greenaway illustrations here.

I also love Arthur Rackham’s illustrations. My copy of his version of Rip van Winkle which is written by Washington Irving is a delight, the colours are muted as you would expect of Rackham, but that adds to their attraction to me. You can see some of the images here.

Melisande cover

I had to buy E.Nesbit’s Melisande when I saw that it was illustrated by P.J. Lynch. I wanted it as soon as I saw the cover. I love those medieval European buildings as well as Melisande and her gorgeous flowing locks. You can see some of the illustrations here.

The Nutcracker retold by Anthea Bell has lovely illustrations, although more modern than some of the books on this shelf. The illustrations are by Lisbeth Zwerger, you can see some of her work here.

Lastly – for the moment – Merlin Dreams is a book that I haven’t read yet. It’s written by Peter Dickinson and illustrated by Alan Lee who is apparently a highly regarded fantasy illustrator. This one doesn’t have so many illustrations, it’s obviously meant for older children. Alan Lee’s work is very ethereal looking to me, perfect for this book of Celtic fantasy. You can see some of his work here

Book Covers

A Reader in the Wilderness has been Blog Hopping again and the question last week was about book covers. Do they influence you? I know, I’m a week late!

I started buying books for children before I actually had any weans to read them to. I must admit that the books were purchased just because I couldn’t resist the cover, or the illustrations. A lot of them are in the depths of the farthest away attic and I don’t fancy braving it at this time of the year. There are enough spiders in the house at the moment, coming in from the cold, I hate to think what the attics are like!


These book covers were designed by J.P.Lynch, who obviously has a penchant for roof-tops. The covers certainly attracted me to buy them, but the stories are lovely too.

Despite the fact that we have hundreds of books for adults in the house, there aren’t really any which I would say were particularly eye catching. It has really annoyed me in the past that covers often have absolutely nothing to do with the contents of the book. It’s as if the publisher has just pulled an old illustration out of a cupboard and said, “That’ll do!” I know for a fact that the person who does the art work for publishers is often paid more than the authors are and that is just absolutely crazy.

I’ve always loved Michael Foreman’s illustrations.

My husband writes literary science-fiction, mainly short stories but he has had one novel published under Little, Brown’s Orbit imprint. Sadly he was given absolutely no say in the book cover design whatsoever. We were both really disappointed when he received his first copy as we didn’t think that the cover would attract anyone to it at all, especially if they didn’t already know his writing.

A Son of the Rock cover

Obviously the artist just went with the title and hadn’t actually read the book. If he had done so, he could have come up with something really lovely instead of artwork which would have been more suitable for a horror story. Such is life!