Today I am really chuffed to be welcoming Lydia Monks to Library Mice for the latest Fabulous Five feature. We have many books illustrated by Lydia in the house: Tess Plays Games , which was a favourite of my daughter’s as a toddler, all the books that she had illustrated for Julia Donaldson, and a favourite of mine, Falling for Rapunzel (see my review here), amongst others.
Her two most recent books, Babbit (see my review here) and The Rhyming Rabbit (see my review here) both involve rabbits, but today Lydia has chosen to share her favourite illustrated fairy-tales, a favourite topic of mine!

Lydia was born in Surrey but brought up in Northampton. She did a foundation course in Northampton, then an HND in graphics at Lincoln, then went on to complete a degree in illustration at Kingston University. After college, Lydia worked for different newspapers and magazines before going into children’s book illustration. She has won many awards, including the Smarties Bronze Award for I Wish I Were a Dog.Recently, she has been involved in ITV Daybreak’s “What’s the Story” competition.
Lydia lives in Sheffield with her husband, who is also an illustrator, and their two young daughters. You can visit Lydia’s website here and her blog here.

My Top Five Illustrated Fairy Tales
by Lydia Monks

I have two little girls who love fairy tales, just as I did when I was little. I think it’s wonderful how the same, traditional stories continue to be retold and loved by so many. I never get tired of seeing what different authors and illustrators bring to the tales.

Vera Southgate & Eric Winter (1964)
This is the book I remember from my childhood. I’m a huge fan of the classic Ladybird books, but this one I think was my extra special favourite! I think the illustrations are a little girl’s dream. The three dresses are so sumptuous. Cinderella is so beautiful, and a fairy tale wedding to end. What more could a girl want?

Hansel and Gretel
Michael Morpurgo & Emma Chichester Clark

This book has been read over and over again, in my house, and thank goodness, I never tire of reading it! Micheal Morpurgo really brings a lovely sentiment to the story. The characters are brought to life in a really touching way, and I really empathise with them – even the witch! He seems to bring meaning to the witch’s evil. That combined with Emma’s illustrations have brought tears to my eyes on occasion! It’s that mix of softness and horror which works so well. When the witch is depicted at her worst, she is wearing slippers! There is something really sinister about that. Genius!

The Pea and the Princess
Mini Grey

Mini Grey has a brilliant knack of writing wonderful stories about inanimate objects. It’s something I’d never think to do! I love her twist on this tale. To hear the story from the pea’s point of view is brilliant! Fantastic illustrations too! The snooty, bossy Queen, who looks a bit familiar is my favourite! However, my girls will not accept that a real princess would get married in dungarees! They just won’t have it!

Snow White
Josephine Poole & Angela Barrett

I’m a huge fan of Angela Barrett. I think something in her work reminds me of where I started this – with the old Ladybird books. They are sumptuous and beautifully crafted. Really atmospheric pictures. All the little hidden details, like creatures lurking and insects scuttling. There is a gentleness, which is hiding something darker. Wonderful stuff!

The Princess and the Pea
Lauren Child & Polly Borland

Another book for the little girl inside! I had a flashback to my childhood when I saw this! I loved dolls houses and the tiny things that lived inside them. I made my own too once, with its own roll-up ladder to get to the top floor! What a great idea to do it as a grown-up, and how fantastic that a publisher gave Lauren their support! The mix of beautifully crafted objects and bits of cardboard is what gets me! I also love her version of the story. Very envious! I wish I’d thought of it!


Such a great selection, thank you so much to Lydia for sharing it with us. As a non-native of this country, I am not really familiar the old Ladybird books, but I know that particular version of Cinderella will bring back fond memories to many readers. I love the version of Hansel and Gretel that Lydia has chosen too; Emma Chichester Clark included some wonderful Balkan patterns in her illustrations and it is a great adaptation from Michael Morpurgo.