A most wondrous tome currently resides on my coffee table…

October 5, 2015 at 1:35 am (Art, Awards, Book review, books, Children's literature)


Martin Salisbury is a professor of illustration at the Cambridge School of Art of Anglia Ruskin University. He obviously has a deep knowledge of children’s literature, and an equally deep love for it. His perspective is refreshingly international.

Salisbury begins his survey with a 1910 title: The Slant Book by Peter Newell. Slantbook

The book is rhomboid in shape,with text on the verso page and image on the recto throughout. The story follows the chaos of a runaway baby’s buggy as it rolls down a hill, the gradient of which is exactly equal to the slope of the book, so that the delighted baby is seen to be rolling towards the gutter of the book on each double-page spread.

(Martin Salisbury’s description)

Click here for a look inside The Slant Book.

As I make my enraptured way through this book, I’ve encountered some old friends Ducklings but quite a few more that I’d never heard of. And when I came to Village and Town by S.R. Badmin (London, 1942), I was literally stopped in my tracks, my Anglophile antennae quivering madly!

Well Рyou can see why: villages-and-towns-puffin  villageandtown


I had to have this one! It was then that I learned my first lesson about acquiring older, out of print children’s picture books: They can be rare. And they can be expensive. Persistence paid off in this instance, I’m glad to report. For what I judge to be a reasonable sum, Village and Town is on its way to me courtesy of Abebooks’s UK site.

I am not at all knowledgeable in this field, but I’ve felt for quite some time that some of the greatest art being made anywhere can be found in children’s picture books. If you love brilliant colors


Alphabet, by Kveta Pakovska (2013)



Ella’s Birthday, by Betty Swanwick (1946)

and great draftsmanship, you will find these in abundance in the many great children’s picture¬† books.

If you’d like some names and titles of recent picture books that have won critical acclaim, have a look at the list of Caldecott Medal Winners and Honor books. A great source for children’s literature in general is Barb Langridge’s site A Book and a Hug.

Where this vast subject is concerned, I’ve only scratched the surface in this post. My main purpose was to alert people to Martin Salisbury’s outstanding work of scholarship in this field; 100 Great Children’s Picture Books is a joy!


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