As mentioned in yesterday’s post, I have recently discovered Hannah Cuuming’s work. I am delighted to welcome her to Library Mice today to talk about her five favourite picture books.



Hannah Cumming grew up in Dorset, England, and was drawing and writing stories as soon as she was old enough to hold a pencil. After teaching in a primary school in Malaysia (and doodling many pictures on the blackboard), it dawned on her that putting pictures and words together was how she wanted to make a living. She went on to study Illustration at University College Falmouth, graduating in 2007 with First Class Honours. She has twice gained Highly Commended in the Macmillan Children’s Book Prize for her original picture book ideas and was commissioned to illustrate her first book, ‘The Gift’, written by Victoria Field for Fal Publications, while at university. Her first book as author/illustrator, The Cloud, published by Child’s Play in June 2010, was long listed for the Nasen Inclusive Children’s Book Award and the follow-up, The Lost Stars, has been shortlisted for the Portsmouth Book Award 2012, and is being adapted for planetarium shows. 
Check out Hannah’s website here .
Five Fabulous Favourite Picture Books
by Hannah Cumming
Father Christmas
Raymond Briggs

I adore Raymond Briggs. His books are just perfectly observed, beautifully rendered, funny and timeless. I used to read this in bed every Christmas Eve night, it was a little tradition of mine. Nothing encapsulates Christmas magic more. I loved the detail in the cross sections of all the houses, seeing people asleep with their stockings hanging up inside, and then the pictures of Father Christmas flying over London (stopping for a tea break on a roof), the countryside and sea are so beautifully done. When finished with his annual work, Father Christmas goes back home and we see his typical, comforting, same as everyone else’s (minus the reindeer) home routine. I love that he’s just a grumpy old man as well!

The Great Blueness and Other Predicaments
Arnold Lobel

Another one from my childhood. This is a very literal story about colour, and it works so well! I love Arnold Lobel’s illustrations, they are so detailed and imaginative, each page is packed and atmospheric, quite like some of Maurice Sendak’s work. This was a great introduction to the idea of colour for me, making it, using it, and how it affects moods. It paints a funny picture of crowd mentality too, and the idea that one person thinking differently, determined to make things better, can do so. It’s very funny and has a satisfying ending, too, when the Magician finally figures out what he should do. A real classic that every one should look up!

Alexis Deacon
Beegu came out when around my first year at university, and it blew me away. It is such a beautiful, accomplished book (only his second at the time!). Beegu is a little alien, lost, and trying to fit in on earth. It heartbreakingly portrays the idea of being an ‘outsider’ trying to make sense of the world, and what makes this book so lovely, is that everyone can relate to Beegu at certain points in their lives. Alexis Deacon’s draughtsmanship is truly incredible, and his use of colour, composition and pacing in this book is very inspiring. As an example of words and pictures working symbiotically it’s just about perfect, and it really illustrates how using words sparingly can have a big impact, too. It’s a very poignant and lovely book.

Moon Man
Tomi Ungerer

This is one I only discovered in recent years, but it’s a firm classic. Aside from the bold, colourful, lively illustrations (I wish I could illustrate so bravely), it’s a great example of a book that can ‘say something’ and appeal to all ages without being overly moralistic or manipulative. It’s a hard thing to convey satire or other messages in a book without overdoing it or detracting from the story and fun, and Moon Man is an example of it being done right. There are so many ideas you can gently introduce children to, and have a chuckle and open your eyes to them more yourself, through picture books. I love the subtle ribbing it gives narrow minded adults, the spin on the man in the moon idea, and the comforting ‘there’s no place like home’ theme. It’s made me discover the rest of Tomi Ungerer’s work too which is definitely no bad thing!

The Little Flower King
Kveta Pacovska

The Little Flower King was originally published in the 80’s but still looks very fresh and modern. It’s the best kind of bonkers, using bold and bright (but limited) colours and collage, it plays with scale, and has very expressive, childlike drawings. Kveta Pacovska has a very brave, strong sense of design, and this is definitely arty enough to appeal to adults too. It’s a very good example of innovative, European style, and really opened my eyes to big, brave illustrating. What makes her illustrations stand out even more is that they are accompanying quite an old fashioned story. When the Little Flower King has filled his kingdom with his beloved tulips, he realises he still isn’t satisfied, and sets out to find a princess. He searches everywhere, but eventually finds her right back where he started from…


Thank you Hannah for a great selection. I really like the look of The Little Flower King (I really like Kveta Pacovska’s work), but unfortunately it is out of print.