Posts Tagged ‘Shirley Hughes’

Again today, I’ve got ten marvelous books, my favorites from what I read this week. Loads of goodness here…

A treasure of a treasury from my all-time favorite:

a year of stories and things to do cover image

A Year of Stories and Things to Do, written and illustrated by Shirley Hughes
published in Great Britain in 2014 by The Bodley Head

Shirley Hughes is a treasure, pure and simple. Her books are golden favorites in our family.

This collection exudes all that we love about Shirley in one hefty, beautiful volume.

from Alfie Wins a Prize

from Alfie Wins a Prize

A selection of her stories correlate with the seasons. Alfie’s Feet, with all his sploshing about, comes in April; Alfie Goes Camping lands in August. There are a few stories I’ve not seen before starring Jonadab and Bobbo, which were a special treat. Several poems are also included.

a year of stories and things to do by shirley hughes inteior

Each month begins with a little chat from Shirley, and ends with two pages of her creative suggestions for seasonal outdoor activities, games, crafts, recipes — old-fashioned, non-electronic, juicy stuff for children ages 3 and up.

Almost 300 gorgeous pages. A lovely gift for a lucky someone!

Jazzy toddler fare from Byron Barton:

my bike cover image

My Bike, written and illustrated by Byron Barton
published in 2015 by Greenwillow Books

Byron Barton is a genius author/illustrator for the animal-cracker crowd, and here is his newest title.

my bike illustration byron barton

Stoplight-bright colors, bold designs, and a clever journey on a bike with a jolly surprise ending.

Perfection for little squirts, 18 months and up.

Just in time for Father’s Day:

audrey's tree house cover image

Audrey’s Tree House, by Jenny Hughes, illustrated by Jonathan Bentley
published in Australia in 2014; first published in the U.S. in 2015 by Scholastic Press

Plucky young Audrey thinks she’s outgrown the family home so she’s on the look-out for a new place to accommodate her very grown-up self. A tree house should do the trick.

audrey's tree house jenny hughes and jonathan bentley

Good-natured Dad builds quite the elaborate place, all according to Audrey’s specifications, curling banisters, suspended bathtub and all. But after everything is in place, doubts begin to niggle their way in.

A warmhearted, tender tale for daughters and dads, ages 4 and up.

Generations of family love:

mama seeton's whistle cover image

Mama Seeton’s Whistle, by Jerry Spinelli, art by LeUyen Pham
published in 2015 by Little, Brown and Company

I had an uncle whose come-to-dinner whistle could be heard all across the neighborhoods of their small Minnesota mining town, summoning my cousins from games of baseball and kick-the-can.

mama seeton's whistle illustration leuyen pham

Jerry Spinelli had a neighbor with the same talent, the basis for this delightful story. Watch Mama Seeton’s children grow up, venture into the world, have children of their own, but never forget their mama’s keen whistle.

LeUyen Pham’s charming illustrations blanket this story in warmth. Outstanding collaboration, for ages 5 and up.

A book about…Underwear?!?!

vegetables in underwear cover image

Vegetables in Underwear, written and illustrated by Jared Chapman
published in 2015 by Abrams Appleseed

If there’s one thing guaranteed to be scandalously funny to preschoolers…it’s underwear.

For those graduating to undies, it’s also quite a source of pride and excitement! That’s the crowd who will giggle and grin over this small catalog of underwear. Modeled by…vegetables.

vegetables in underwear illustration jared chapman

Because if underwear is not funny enough on its own…just let a potato or a turnip try some on and see how hysterical that is!

Crazy, Kool-aid bright, ridiculousness. But not for babies. Because babies don’t wear underwear! (Sorry, Babies.) Snicker over this one with your newly-out-of-diapers child.

Vintage charm for doll-lovers:

a doll for marie cover image

A Doll for Marie, by Louise Fatio, illustrated by Roger Duvoisin
originally published in 1957; republished by Alfred A. Knopf in 2015

This vintage charmer for little girls and their dolls has been reprinted this year.

In an antique shop in Paris, a beautiful doll languishes. She longs to be owned by a little girl who will take her to tea parties and read to her. And Marie longs to be that little girl, but she is too poor to buy her.

a doll for marie illustration roger duvoisin

These two are eventually united, but the pathway is full of alarming twists! Duvoisin’s beloved illustrations bring 1950s Paris to life. And — there’s a miniature edition of this book tucked inside, just right for reading to your doll! Pure sugar and spice for little girls ages 4 and older.

Toddler cheeriness from the We’re Going on a Bear Hunt guy!:

the bus is for us cover image

The Bus is For Us!, by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Gillian Tyler
first U.S. edition 2015 by Candlewick Press

 Here is another blast of catchy cheer from UK writer/poet Michael Rosen.

These children have lots of ideas about ways to get from here to there. Some are ordinary; some extraordinary.

the bus is for us michael rosen and gillian tyler

But the best? The best is the bus, because the bus is for us! Sing out together about the delights of riding a double-decker bus crammed with friends. Gillian Tyler’s lovely artwork shines here. Brilliant for ages 18 months and up.

So clever and tricksy!

wild about shapes cover image

Wild About Shapes, created by Jérémie Fischer
published in 2014 by Flying Eye Books

Watch this…

wild about shapes interior2 jeremie fischer

…transform to this,

wild about shapes interior jeremie fischer

with the flip of a colored, acetate page. It’s like magic! Can you guess what animal will emerge before you flip the page? The riddles will give you a clue.

Mesmerizing fun for ages 3 and up.

Sugary and delicious American history:

gingerbread for liberty cover image

Gingerbread for Liberty!: How a German Baker Helped Win the American Revolution, by Mara Rockliff, pictures by Vincent X. Kirsch
published in 2015 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

I’ve read a fair bit about the American Revolution, but I’ve never heard this story about Christopher Ludwick.

And his bountiful bakery.

And his tantalizing gingerbread.

gingerbread for liberty illustration vincent x. kirsch

And how he helped the Yankees win the war.

Read this exceptional, upbeat account to get ready for Independence Day. Comes with a recipe for gingerbread so you can make some mouthwatering confections of your own! Ideal for ages 5 and older.


Read Full Post »

digby o'day in the fast lane cover imageDigby O’Day In the Fast Lane, by Shirley Hughes, illustrated by Clara Vulliamy
first U.S. edition 2014 by Candlewick Press

Digby O’Day is an adventurous, nattily-dressed dog whose favorite possession is his car, a sweet red machine, sparkling clean, though unhappily prone to engine troubles.

Digby and his pal, Percy, love to tool around the countryside digby o'day in the fast lane 2 hughes and vulliamytogether in the car. Their one annoyance is that hoity-toity neighbor Lou Ella. Lou Ella buys a new car every year. She goes for expensive, fast, pink sports cars. So provoking.

Digby, Percy, Lou Ella and a host of others are about to take their places and ready their engines for an All-Day Race from Didsworth to Dodsworth. They’re allowed to choose any route they like. Digby’s first route nearly spells disaster! Next, he kindly takes time to rescue a family in a broken-down car. Lou digby o'day in the fast lane hughes and vulliamyElla’s car is so speedy,and Lou Ella herself is so haughty. Is there any chance for the amiable Digby and Percy to win?!

This charming beginning-chapter book is the first installment of a new series by dear Shirley Hughes and her daughter, Clara Vulliamy. It’s quite a new direction for Shirley, but as always, her plot is nicely developed for young children. The story is exciting, the heroes are immensely likeable, and Lou Ella is a wonderfully peevish villainess.

Additionally, Vulliamy’s illustrations are oh-so-perky. A bit retro, with a color scheme of eye-popping reds, pleasant pink, gray and black. Quite snappy. The layout of the pages is outstanding, with snippets of text dancing in and out of illustration, keeping us happily turning pages.

There are lots of juicy extras, too. An interview with Digby. Jolly maps. Snazzy chapter digby o'day in the fast lane 3 hughes and vulliamyheadings. A host of old-fashioned games to play in the car, drawing projects, a Digby O’Day quiz, a friendly introduction to the author and illustrator and a sneak peek ahead to more Digby adventures.

Like so many of Shirley’s books, this will appeal to a wide audience, boys and girls, newly-independent readers or younger listeners. I suggest you take it out for a spin!

Read Full Post »

Shirley Hughes

Shirley Hughes

As you all know, Shirley Hughes is officially Orange Marmalade’s Favorite Children’s Author/Illustrator.  At 86 years old, she continues to write, draw, and paint her way into our hearts. Here are two of her more recent titles, in the nick of time for a rush order for Christmas!

Alfie’s Christmas, written and illustrated by Shirley Hughes, published 2013

alfie's christmas cover imageAlfie is probably Shirley’s best known and beloved character, perpetually 5 or 6 years old.  Now you can hang around his household through the Christmas season and enjoy the warm, ordinary, exciting, lovely goings-on there.

Handmade cards and the nursery school pageant, cookie baking, tree trimming, shopping for just the right presents for his mum and dad and a christmas card from shirley hughesAnnie Rose, posting his wishes to Father Christmas, hanging his stocking at the foot of the bed…are all carried on in the chummy, ambly pace we love and long for. There’s a bit of a kerfuffle during Christmas night, courtesy of Annie Rose, and a jolly outing with Great-Uncle Will who has come all the way from Australia, both of which add just a pinch of spice to this warm-as-cocoa tale. Other than that, it’s the joy of family together at Christmas which easily carries the story.

Shirley’s artwork speaks for itself. Simply perfect. This book reminds me greatly of her Lucy and Tom’s Christmas, which you can read about here. Sadly, that one is much harder to get ahold of, in the U.S. at least. This nicely carries on the spirit of that book, with all the characters we’ve come to love in the catalog of Alfie stories.

the christmas eve ghost cover imageThe Christmas Eve Ghost, written and illustrated by Shirley Hughes, published 2010

An utterly new cast of characters appears in this book, set in Liverpool in the 1930s, which is the time and place of Shirley’s childhood. Drawing from her memories, she has crafted this rich, warm story.

Bronwen and Dylan, ages about 6 and 4,  have just moved from Wales to Liverpool with their Mam, after their Da was killed in a mining accident. It’s a hard life for Mam. The exhausting work of taking in laundry, the fretting over money, and the bleak and sooty city of strangers, all make her dream of the green valleys of home.

Next door live the O’Rileys — Mr. and Mrs. and their two the christmas eve ghost illustration shirley hughesstrapping boys. They are a hard-working lot, but Mam has told her children never to speak to them. Why? Bronwen wonders. They seem nice enough, though they do go to quite a different church, not at all like the Chapel where she goes Sundays with Mam. This seems to be the sticking point for Mam. She’s very stern when the subject comes up.

On Christmas Eve, though, when Mam has to leave the children home alone for a last bit of shopping, a terrible knocking, plonking noise in their dark washhouse scares the bujeebers out of the children! They’re certain it’s a horrid ghostie, something like the ones in the bewitching tales Mam sometimes tells them. Skedaddling out of the house, they run straight into the off-limits Mrs. O’Riley, and soon not only is the mysterious sound discovered, but a new friendship has blossomed.

Marvelous watercolors as always, this time with the architecture and trams, household furnishings and clothing styles of Depression-era Liverpool. An especially sweet take on the peace among mankind which beckons particularly to us at Christmas. You can hear Shirley talk about the making of this book at the link here

Read Full Post »

My dear Shirley Hughes:  author of over 50 books, illustrator of hundreds, winner of not only the Kate Greenaway award — the UK’s version of the Caldecott medal — but the Greenaway of Greenaways award! — meaning, her book, Dogger, was voted by the British public “the best book ever given a Greenaway award” in honor of the 50th anniversary of that medal.  She has brought so very much pleasure to me and my kids through her charming stories and gorgeous artwork.  We ALL love her.

Why do I love Shirley Hughes’ work?  So many reasons.  1) She is a genius at understanding the small, real concerns of children and weaving them into satisfying, plausible plots. 2) Her artwork is incredibly warm, lifelike, and believable.  3) Her families are loving and ordinary and real. 4) A number of her stories feature  multi-cultural people and neighborhoods.  5) Her houses are always messy enough  that my own mess feels happily validated!  Hurrah!  6) The children in her stories solve their own problems, but not at the expense of the adults’ intelligence.7) She elevates the ordinary, the quiet, and the simple, gracing them with beauty.  8.) Her children still know how to play, rather than be entertained by electronic devices.  I could go on.  She is truly one in a million.

So, it was not easy to choose just five Shirley Hughes books — I’ll do another 5 another time — but here we go.  All of these are written and illustrated by her… 


I totally understand why this book has won so many awards.  It is really a perfect picture book.

Dogger is a little brown stuffed dog…a bit worn and floppy from years of loving.  He belongs to a pre-school age boy named Dave.  Dave is very fond of Dogger.  He plays with him, cares for him, takes him everywhere, washes him, sleeps with him.  So one evening, when bedtime arrives, and Dave discovers Dogger is missing, the entire family turns out and turns everything upside down in order to find him.  You can well imagine this scene.  But…Dogger is not found, and Dave is utterly woebegone. 

The next day is the School Summer Fair.  Dave’s family all go to enjoy the games and races and raffles.  In a surprising turn of events, Dave spots Dogger sitting on a rummage table of toys, with a price tag around his neck:  50 cents (or 5 pence, depending on what side of the ocean you read the book!)   Without any coins in his pocket, Dave is forced to race through the crowds, frantically searching for his family.  And, sickeningly, by the time he returns, another little girl has purchased Dogger.  Now what?!

It’s Dave’s big sister, Bella, who, in a lovely, self-sacrificing act, saves Dogger for Dave.  Without being saccharine in the least, this book portrays love and kindness in a way that would warm the heart of Ebeneezer Scrooge!    Authentic and sweet.  Don’t miss this book.

An Evening at Alfie’s

Alfie is the little boy responsible for much of Shirley Hughes’ success. According to some reports, Hughes’ books have sold 12 million copies, and Alfie makes up a quarter of the sales.  Once you meet him and his little sister, Annie Rose, you will understand the fuss and adoration!

In An Evening at Alfie’s, Alfie’s parents are heading out for the evening and the girl-next-door, Maureen, is coming to baby-sit.  Maureen is well-known and loved in this household, so Alfie and Annie Rose settle down in their beds quite happily.


…Alfie does not go to sleep immediately, and therefore he is the one to hear the drip-drip-dripping sound in the hallway and to alert Maureen that it is, in fact, raining inside the house!  Maureen is savvy enough to figure out that there is a burst water pipe, but her attempts to deal with this using buckets and mops just cannot keep up with the increasing quantity of water pouring out of the ceiling!  And in the meantime, Annie Rose is wailing in her crib!

In the end, Maureen’s dad comes over to help with the plumbing crisis, Alfie solves Annie Rose’s woes, and by the time Mom and Dad come home, everyone is dry and snug.  There are quite a few absolutely charming books and stories about Alfie and Annie Rose.  Check them out by clicking on this link:  http://www.alfiebooks.co.uk/alfiebooks.asp

The Big Concrete Lorry

This is one of the Tales of Trotter Street books which all take place in one neighborhood and feature various families.  It is a wonderful, multi-cultural street of row houses and neighborliness.

One of the homes is occupied by the Pattersons — Mom, Dad, 3 kids and a little dog.  The Pattersons have discovered that they are feeling a bit squooshed in their place — this is definitely not a McMansion!  The family lives and sleeps and works and plays all fairly on top of one another.  Moving is out of the question — too expensive.  So, Dad comes up with the brilliant idea of building a small extension on the house.  Everyone is immediately full of excitement and dreams for what this addition will be like!

The Pattersons’ neighbors are happy to help, and the guys get the foundation dug and ready in one day.  However, the next day, as Dad lingers in bed, tired and a bit stiff, jolly Joe Best shows up unexpectedly with his cement truck, and begins pouring the load of cement in the street!  Yikes!  The entire family springs into action, grabbing buckets, fetching wheelbarrows, summoning neighbors, trundling cement in the street-side door, through the house, and out the back door, as fast as they possibly can!!

Well.  The foundation gets finished after all.  Phew!  And a little bit of cement that remains in the street gets put to good use as well!  And all the neighbors enjoy a lovely party when the extension is complete.  Such an exciting, fun story, perfect for little boys who love Construction Sites!  The Trotter Street stories feature children slightly older than the Alfie stories, all with excellent plots.


Shirley Hughes has also created a young pre-school age girl and her baby brother Olly.  They charm the socks off of us in some of her older titles for toddlers and in a series of newer titles with names like Bouncing, Giving, Hiding, Chatting.  These are books for children as young as 18 months, with no real story line, just concepts presented in clever, interesting ways.

With scads of cheery pictures and little text, Bouncing is a joyful look at this happy aspect of a young child’s life.  Certainly colorful balls bounce, but children also bounce on the beds, babies bounce on older siblings, grandpa plays bouncing-on-his-knee games, and when Mom isn’t looking, the sofa provides good bouncing, too!

This little girl with her red buckle shoes and tousled hair, and her baby brother with chubby bare toes and hard-working overalls, sproing and splot and dance and twinkle-toe their way through these pages, spreading sunshine everywhere…and then they go to sleep.  Simple. Lovely. 

Ella’s Big Chance: A Jazz-Age Cinderella

This is one of Shirley’s newer books, published in 2003, and it is fantastic!

Hughes studied costume design at the Liverpool School of Art and Design in her younger days, and the fabulous Roaring Twenties attire in this rendition of Cinderella show off her amazing talent.  Hats and flapper gowns, spangles and fur collars, dropped waists and strings of pearls, dazzle us, while the jazz-age hotel, chauffeur and automobile provide the Cinderella elements of palace, footman and coach-and-four.

In Hughes’ spin on the traditional story, Ella is a dressmaker’s hardworking daughter and a new character — Buttons — is a kind, good-natured delivery boy who works for them.  When Ella’s dad remarries, her dreadful stepmother and stepsisters push the business to new heights, creating a ton o’work for Ella and her brow-beaten father.  The only sunshine in Ella’s life is Buttons. 

When the Duke plans a ball, of course the sisters scoff at Ella’s desire to go, but the appearance of a fashionable fairy godmother who makes a bit of magic with her amethyst umbrella provides the limo, ball gown, darling hat and glass slippers necessary.  And, just as expected, the stunning Ella captures the fancy of  the duke, dashes out of the hotel at the last minute, drops a glass slipper along the way, and has the only foot in the town which fits it. 

But, will Ella marry the dashing duke?  If you have a romantic bone in your body you will not have forgotten about the loyal, dear Buttons who has faithfully supported Ella through all her dark days.  What will Ella do?  This is a sweet, delightful version of Cinderella, especially for those of us who love the styles of this era.  Great for slightly older girls who already know the standard fairy tale backwards and forwards!

After all that, if you want to know a bit more about Shirley Hughes, here’s a link to a 2008 article in The Telegraph, out of the UK, where you can get started:  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/3559843/Shirley-Hughes-conjuring-up-halcyon-days-of-childhood.html  Here’s hoping you discover and treasure her work as millions of us already do…

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: