Friday, May 05, 2006

Shirley Hughes

Jane Wheatley talks to the wonderful Shirley Hughes for the Times.

I adore Shirley Hughes' picture books for toddlers and younger children. Alfie has been a staple around our house for years. Wheatley really gets to the essence of what makes Shirley Hughes such a wonderful writer-illustrator. In the following paragraph, for example, Hughes explains to Wheatley how she sees the world of a small child:
  • "Life for a small child is not a sweet idyll, she says, but high drama: 'They are learning more at this stage than at any other, grappling with these big things: are my boots on the right feet? Can I safely put my security blanket down? You have to tap into the way they feel about these things.'"

Hughes' books are about the small things--splashing in puddles with new red boots, a school Christmas paegent, a semi-scary birthday party, a lost toy. Hughes is always sketching the world as Wheatley notes, "she rarely goes anywhere without a sketchbook to record people and animals in parks, streets and caf├ęs. "

It's a nice, long article--perfect for a cup of coffee.