I came quite late to picture books as a professional but now that I’m there I can’t get enough of the best of them. Here are three that are standing out for me currently.
Many years ago I had a much-treasured copy of The Twelve Dancing Princesses. I love the beautiful underground world where the sisters danced in secret away from the confines of the palace, and the little hint of mystery. This new version by Alison Jay and published by Templar is gorgeous. Her crackle-glazed style with sumptuous colours and dynamic characters draws the reader in to the princesses’ private world. I particularly like the forest and lake scenes which contrast so well with the lighted ballroom. This is just as much a treasure as my well-loved and read older copy.
Princess Eliza is clever, busy, kind and lonely. She needs a friend but few people make it to her snow-bound kingdom. One day she ventures out alone into the forest where, instead of the bears she’d expected to meet, she finds a reindeer who carries her off to meet his friends. Told in verse, this is a joyful story with sly allusions to other fairy tales, and the illustrations bring to life a Nordic winter. In The Princess and the Christmas Rescue from Nosy Crow, Caryl Hart and Sarah Warburton have created a modern take on an age-old story of friendship.
Cinderella: an art deco fairy tale published by Pavilion is a retelling of the well-known story by Lynn Roberts-Maloney illustrated by David Roberts. The text gives the tale a gentler feel and makes the stepmother and stepsisters less horrific but still self-centred, demanding and dismissive of Cinderella. The illustrations set the story very firmly in the 1930s and are full of art deco style from the hairstyles to the shoes and the pictures on the walls. The attention to detail makes this a fabulous book to view and the tightly-written story is laced with an undercurrent of dry humour.