FABULOUS FIVE: Ellie Sandall presents Five Picture Books Featuring Birds
Today I am really happy to welcome Ellie Sandall to the latest edition of Fabulous Five. I have reviewed both of Ellie’s books with great pleasure (Birdsong and Daisy Plays Hide-and-Seek) and was chuffed when she agreed to take part.
by Ellie Sandall
Birds are one of my favourite subjects to illustrate and I always feel drawn to images of birds whenever I come across them! I found it ridiculously tough to choose my top five picture books, or indeed my five favourite illustrators, so I have narrowed it down to five of my favourite books featuring birds. After much deliberation, they are as follows:
Brian Wildsmith is one of my absolute favourite illustrators, and I have chosen this particular book as there are many beautiful birds to spot! Wildsmith’s use of colour is just wonderful, though my favourite spreads are those where a lot of white space is left, as they really allow the animals to shine. He uses a variety of brush techniques and creates a mixed media feel to the illustrations, which is something I can see in my own work. My absolute favourite spreads are the hyena walking on the melons, and the balancing trick by the fox and the genet – the texture of the animals’ fur is so lovely, and I love the slightly more muted palette of these pages.
This Little Chick
John Lawrence was a visiting lecturer at Cambridge School of Art where I did my MA, and I have fond memories of listening to him explaining his technique and showing us his wonderful sketchbooks. The beautifully detailed woodcut illustrations for This Little Chick, along with the striking limited colour palette, make this an exquisite example of Lawrence’s workmanship.
This story is so wonderful! The last page always brings a tear to my eye, which is an extraordinary thing for a picture book to have the power to do. It’s such a simple story, brilliantly executed- especially the depiction of what Penguin says when he does finally speak! I love the character of Ben, and I really love Penguin’s subtle and very amusing facial expressions. I am drawn to Dunbar’s illustrations by her use of little touches of pattern and collage, which is something I like to play with in my own work.
Sylvia and Bird
Catherine Rayner is another favourite illustrator of mine. Her screen printed illustrations are wonderfully fresh and there is a sketchy feel to them which I really love. The gentle story of an unlikely friendship is beautifully told, and the limited colour palette of blues, greens and mauve works really well, allowing tiny Bird to stand out with her yellow plumage. I really like the textures on Sylvia’s scaly body, and the patterns and sense of depth created by the leaves in the trees. I find a strong sense of design in the pages of Rayner’s books, which really appeals to me.
Thank you so much to Ellie for taking part and for this lovely selection. I knew of Ellie’s fondness for images of birds so really pleased she had chosen that as her theme. Ellie and Kate Slater are both nominated for Read It Again, the 2011 Cambridgeshire Children’s Picture Book Award for Birdsong and Magpie’s Treasure. Annie Hoot and the Knitting Extravaganza and A Bit Lost are also nominated, birds are definitely “in” this year (see shortlist here)!