What each of the above has, apart from incredible talent as an author who can illustrate his or her own stories and those of other authors, is an unmistakeable, individual style: the rich detail in Shirley Hughes’s pictures is as distinctive as the famous cross-hatching of Ardizzone. The instantly recognisable London homes and streets which feature in many of her books, such as the Alfie series, are equalled by the fantasy worlds of books like Sally’s Secret; illustrating the little girl’s games in the overgrown garden, she includes visual references to Fragonard and Rousseau.
Quentin Blake is indelibly associated with books by Roald Dahl, but has written many himself, amongst them the outstanding Clown (there are no words, just vivid pictures to tell the story) and Mister Magnolia. Like Hughes he has worked on books for a wide age-range, including Michael Rosen’s Sad Book : “He didn’t just illustrate the book,” says Michael Rosen, “he realised it. He turned a text into a book and as a result showed me back to myself. No writer could ask and get more than that.”
His inimitable artistic style uses fast, scribbly ink lines, but with a precise stroke. His idiosyncratic use of line adds depth to his drawings, conveying movement and creating images with a sense of excitement.
In his very long career, John Burningham has created such memorable picture-book characters as a goose with no feathers in Borka, an eccentric rustic in Mr. Gumpy’s Outing and its sequel, Mr. Gumpy’s Motor Car, a little girl with a vivid imagination whose parents desperately want her to stay out of trouble in Come away from the Water, Shirley and Time to Get out of the Bath, Shirley, a child and a beloved grandfather in Granpa, and a balalaika-playing mouse in Trubloff.
Blending textual humor with equally humorous line drawings embellished with crayon, wash, and a wide assortment of other media, Burningham has created a signature style to his works.
Edward Ardizzone’s famous work as a war artist can be seen in many art galleries. As an illustrator of children’s books he will be forever associated with Clive King’s Stig of the Dump, Dylan Thomas’s A Child’s Christmas in Wales and the books of Eleanor Farjeon, as well as his own Little Tim stories, written between 1936 and 1977 and still in print.