This is a follow on from last week’s top five of Australian Children’s Authors basically because the idea of reducing all our (Miss Two and I) favourite authors down to just five was too daunting, hence I’ve split them in half. Even so there are so many wonderful books that I will most certainly leave out some absolute classics. That said, here is what we’ve come up with (again the first three were a given for us):
1. Lucy Cousins – England
The author of the many Maisy books, it was Lucy Cousins’ books which quickly became Miss Two’s absolute favourite books from a very early age. We have NEVER left the library without a Maisy book in hand, even if that means we re-borrow the one we just returned. We also have several in our permanent collection. I think it is the gorgeous brightly coloured illustrations and the delightfully simple stories that are easy to relate to for kids that attracted her specifically to the Maisy books. For me I find the stories a little too basic to be entertaining to read, but Miss Two is often happy looking at them on her own and very quickly memorises the words. She loves to read these to Baby Good, it’s so cute.
(not surprisingly we actually own this one)
2. Lynley Dodd – New Zealand
If this was just my list, DOdd would be my number one pick. Most well known for the Hairy Maclary and spin off books (though disappointingly we’re yet to find the Schnitzel von Krumm books at the library). We love them all Hairy Maclary, Slinky Malinky, Scareface Claw and most recently Zachary Quack. But Dodd’s talents don’t end with these characters, her list of published books is impressive. Not all have the fabulous rhyming verses associated with Hairy Maclary (though many do), but the sweet, funny and quirky nature is common to them all. Among our other favourites are The Nickle Nackle Tree, My cat likes to hide in boxes, The Smallest Turtle, Wake Up Bear (a particularly well loved one), and The Minister’s Cat ABC.
3. Shirley Hughes – England
I’m not sure who is more in love with the Shirley Hughes books, me or Miss Two – well actually I’m pretty sure it’s me. She is most famous for the Alfie books, but has written and illustrated an incredible fifty books, the first published in 1960. The first Alfie story, Alfie Gets in First, came out in 1981 and the most recent one, Alfie and the Big Boys in 2007. I love the fact that the tales of Alfie and his little sister Annie Rose have been enjoyed by me as a child and Hughes is still writing about Alfie all these years later to be enjoyed by my own children. I think that is a wonderful connection. Looking through the list of Hughes fifty publications there were many that I didn’t recognise (though will be looking out for them in future) but the ones we have enjoyed include Olly and Me 1-2-3, Dogger (another one I remember as a kid), Abel’s Moon (one of the most touching children’s stories I’ve come across), Chatting and Two Shoes, New Shoes I and of course ALL the Alfie books.
4. Beatrix Potter – England
Miss Two’s adoration of Beatrix Potter’s classic stories surprised me a bit. I thought she would be a bit young to hold her attention given the length and content of some of the stories and I know she doesn’t understand everything in them (for example the intention of the fox in Jemima Puddle-duck), but it makes my heart sing whenever she requests a Potter book at bedtime. Did I mention my dog is called Beatrix? Admittedly she did come to love them first in an animated DVD form, but these told the stories word for word and used Potter’s original illustrations as a basis for the animations so I was happy with that. Her personal favourite is Peter Rabbit – which she can recite word perfectly – but she also has a soft spot for Tom Kitten, Benjamin Bunny and Mrs Tiggy Winkle.
5. Julia Donaldson – England
We have yet to make our way through much of Donaldson’s works, but what we have discovered have been simply beautiful stories. Our current choice is Stick Man, but we have also enjoyed The Gruffalo, The Tales from Acorn Wood books, Rosie’s Hat, A Squash and a Squeeze and Toddle Waddle (which we’ve borrowed countless times). Donaldson has worked with some fabulous illustrators (especially Nick Sharratt) giving many of her books an vibrancy so appealing to young children.
Again I have a few honourable mentions; Michael Bond for all the Paddington books; Nick Sharratt himself especially for The Foggy Foggy Forest; Ian Falconer for the Olivia books.
I guess it isn’t really a globally diverse selection, but at least I managed one Kiwi in the mix to give it a bit of variety. Now tell me, who have I left out? Who would make it to your list?
ETA Oops forgot to link back to Liz’s list – she’s done a wonderful one of preserves.