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I have been itching, itching, itching to tell you all about the children’s book my very dear friend Al has written. It is still a little too early to tell you much, but above you can see a very exclusive sneak peak at the first page of his first book for children called ‘Operation Alphabet’ — a fabulous story told with the most beautiful illustrations which I know you and your children will love in a big way (but more on ‘Operation Alphabet’ at a later date).
Al is a top creative for a top advertising agency, a huge lover of children’s books and a very, very nice man to sit in a pub and eat breakfast with (as I know well from being a member of a ‘breakfast club’ with him once, not so long ago). ’Operation Alphabet’ is published by Thames & Hudson and will be in the book stores (in the UK & US) in the Autumn, and you can expect many more stories from Al in the future. Here is his top ten list of kid’s books ….
Five Minutes’ Peace — Jill Murphy
As a new parent, this book really resonates! Such a simple story, beautiful artwork, full of clever touches that you might easily miss the first few times.
Zozo — H.A Ray
I just love the context — it’s ‘Curious George’ of course, but in his original, original form. He had intended to be ’George’ but the publisher felt that it was disrespectful to King George. Displacement is such a clever way to introduce a character – we sympathize immediately. The artwork is just amazing.
Babar’s Travels — Jean de Brunhoff
This is like a movie in your hand! The large format, the strange colour combinations the screen throws up when you get really close and of course that beautiful hand written text — it’s perfect.
Orlando the Marmalade Cat — Kathleen Hale
This is the only time when I think I’d like a cat! (I’m a dog lover) Kathleen Hale’s illustrations are just incredible — there is such a dreamy feel to the whole book, palette, language, everything…
The little red engine gets a name –Diana Ross, Jan Lewitt & George Him
It feels such a period piece, almost a historical artefact, which it is of course. I romanticise Britain in that era, I can’t help imagining it being read to a little Lord, in a nursery in a grand house overlooking Eton Square by a nanny as a glamourous dinner or reception goes on many floors below…the language is beautifully evocative of that era.
And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street — Dr. Seuss
Is such a great premise — kids are always being told not to exaggerate — I spent my childhood doing it. It’s such a good example of an author knowing his or her audience – Dr. Seuss thinks like a kid. The illustrations too have such penmanship, real draughtsman-like quality. A lot of the detail is geographically accurate. I also love looking at his first work and trying to connect elements to his later stuff.
Eloise — Kay Thompson
This was the book that inspired me to begin writing. It’s such a rich world — the hatched illustrations, the period detail and Eloise’s waspish mimics — you dread to think who her parents were! It’s unique.
Madeleine — Ludwig Bemelmans
Much simpler, less detail, but just as evocative. You really sense Bemelmans has based this on a real little girl — a niece or Goddaughter perhaps — I always feel that it’s been written with love when I read it.
Paddington Bear — Micheal Bond
Not a picture book of course but the illustrations come along at just the right time in this wonderful story. Similar premise to Zozo, the displacement theme, Paddington always made me want to come to London when I grew up which I eventually did.
Hug — Jez Alborough
This is such a hit in our house. In fact it’s read daily at the moment. I love the illustration so much and that story — perfection. Great too of course for inspiring hugging which is always a good thing.