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Helen Oxenbury: A Life in Illustration


Staff member
Mar 22, 2024
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Leonard S. Marcus
(Walker Books)

When a picturebook maker’s work has been omnipresentthroughout your childhood and or the childhood of your children, you feel like you know them. They are just part of your everyday life, part of the family. This is how so many of us feel about Helen Oxenbury. Delving into this stunning and impressive tome by children’s literature specialist Leonard S. Marcus is an extension of this; it feels like you are sitting on a sofa, alongisde Oxenbury and Marcus, listening in on their conversation.
In this beautifully produced book, Oxenbury’s work is showcased expertly and compliments the text wonderfully. Some pieces of her work take centre stage, reproduced as full bleed double and single spreads, breaking the text and allowing readers to wholly appreciate her talent. Photographs and pieces of art from her private collection are also included. The text is particularly well laid out and organised: a wonderful contents page, a bibliography set as a timeline and as post-scripts, contributions from authors whose texts Helen Oxenbury has illustrated: Trish Cooke, Mem Fox, Phyllis Root, Michael Rosen and Martin Waddell (author of my favourite Oxenbury-illustrated book: Farmer Duck). It is such a treat, from beginning to end.

Click to view slideshow.

If you are still in need of convincing, here is Helen Oxenbury herself talking about some of her work:

Helen Oxenbury: A Life in Illustration is a fabulous and fascinating retrospective of the huge body of work of one of Britain’s most cherished picturebook makers and is an absolute must for any picturebook enthusiast.


You buy a copy of Helen Oxenbury: A Life in Illustration, as well as all her books, here.

Source: review copy from publisher
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