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  The Shrinking of Treehorn  (Florence Parry Heide – writer; Edward Gorey – illustrator). I first discovered  The Shrinking of Treehorn  when I was ten, my headmistress read it to the whole school. It is a perfect story for any age, very funny, very clever with beautifully strange illustrations, and there is a touch of the subversive about it. I loved it, my class loved it, my headmistress loved it. If it is possible to have such a thing as one favourite book, then this might be it. I never tire of reading it or of looking at the drawings, and it has been a huge influence on my work. A few years ago I got a parcel in the post, inside was a copy of The Shrinking of Treehorn, inscribed with the words,  “thank you for liking Treehorn and saying so! Florence Parry Heide, a Clarice Bean fan” . It is one of my most treasured possessions.

The Shrinking of Treehorn (Florence Parry Heide – writer; Edward Gorey – illustrator). I first discovered The Shrinking of Treehorn when I was ten, my headmistress read it to the whole school. It is a perfect story for any age, very funny, very clever with beautifully strange illustrations, and there is a touch of the subversive about it. I loved it, my class loved it, my headmistress loved it. If it is possible to have such a thing as one favourite book, then this might be it. I never tire of reading it or of looking at the drawings, and it has been a huge influence on my work. A few years ago I got a parcel in the post, inside was a copy of The Shrinking of Treehorn, inscribed with the words, “thank you for liking Treehorn and saying so! Florence Parry Heide, a Clarice Bean fan”. It is one of my most treasured possessions.

 
 I was sitting boredly on a plane waiting for take-off, my book was in my bag and my bag was in the overhead locker so I reached for a copy of the in-flight magazine, and this is what I read.   Brian Eno talking about airports:  “I dislike the tendency of airports to become shopping malls – I used to enjoy the absence of everyday distractions. Now every attempt is made to grab your attention and get into your wallet. It’s a pity – that little moment of public space where people could sit and dream is now largely lost. I also used to like it when all airports had observation decks, and on a nice day I would go early to sit and watch the planes taxiing and taking off. I like getting to the airport very early, I enjoy it most when I have plenty of time to find interesting corners to hang out in. I don’t often listen to music while traveling but I often work on music on my computer while I’m waiting in the airport. As a result I can sometimes be made very happy by a delay in take-off.”  This perfectly describes how that waiting time, (time often considered wasted or boring) can be creative time. It’s how you choose to regard it – dead time or precious time?

I was sitting boredly on a plane waiting for take-off, my book was in my bag and my bag was in the overhead locker so I reached for a copy of the in-flight magazine, and this is what I read.

Brian Eno talking about airports: “I dislike the tendency of airports to become shopping malls – I used to enjoy the absence of everyday distractions. Now every attempt is made to grab your attention and get into your wallet. It’s a pity – that little moment of public space where people could sit and dream is now largely lost. I also used to like it when all airports had observation decks, and on a nice day I would go early to sit and watch the planes taxiing and taking off. I like getting to the airport very early, I enjoy it most when I have plenty of time to find interesting corners to hang out in. I don’t often listen to music while traveling but I often work on music on my computer while I’m waiting in the airport. As a result I can sometimes be made very happy by a delay in take-off.”

This perfectly describes how that waiting time, (time often considered wasted or boring) can be creative time. It’s how you choose to regard it – dead time or precious time?

 
  Karl Ibou by Beatrice Alemagna.  I bought this book in a Parisian bookshop. I chose it for its cover and only much later discovered it was a very interesting book.

Karl Ibou by Beatrice Alemagna. I bought this book in a Parisian bookshop. I chose it for its cover and only much later discovered it was a very interesting book.

 
  The Secret Garden  written in 1911 by Frances Hodgson Burnett is the first novel I ever read and then immediately reread. I am sure this was because the world it contained was so beautifully written, and the book had such an intensity of feeling, that I couldn’t leave it.  The central character, Mary Lennox, is an unusual heroine. She is very hard to like. Rude, selfish, spoilt and not at all beautiful – nothing about her is nice. One can pity her - she is after all an orphan - but she is not a romantic orphan. She is neither passive nor sympathetic, but rather stubborn and curious, and it is these qualities that lead her to seek out the abandoned garden, which like her has grown wild with neglect.She sees the beauty in it and, as she nurtures it back to life, so she becomes a conduit for the healing power of the garden.  It is a powerful and beautifully simple parallel, one a child can readily understand, and so elegantly written that, a hundred years later, the book still feels profound and utterly relevant.

The Secret Garden written in 1911 by Frances Hodgson Burnett is the first novel I ever read and then immediately reread. I am sure this was because the world it contained was so beautifully written, and the book had such an intensity of feeling, that I couldn’t leave it.

The central character, Mary Lennox, is an unusual heroine. She is very hard to like. Rude, selfish, spoilt and
not at all beautiful – nothing about her is nice. One can pity her - she is after all an orphan - but she is not
a romantic orphan. She is neither passive nor sympathetic, but rather stubborn and curious, and it is these qualities that lead her to seek out the abandoned garden, which like her has grown wild with neglect.She sees the beauty in it and, as she nurtures it back to life, so she becomes a conduit for the healing power of the garden. 
It is a powerful and beautifully simple parallel, one a child can readily understand, and so elegantly written that, a hundred years later, the book still feels profound and utterly relevant.

 
  BEAUTIFUL TYPE.  Very often when my book designer and I are trying to decide on a typeface, we will look at examples of other people’s work. This helps us to see the possibilities and spark ideas. This is a book jacket my designer, David Mackintosh introduced me to. We both thought the lettering was incredibly beautiful.

BEAUTIFUL TYPE. Very often when my book designer and I are trying to decide on a typeface, we will look at examples of other people’s work. This helps us to see the possibilities and spark ideas. This is a book jacket my designer, David Mackintosh introduced me to. We both thought the lettering was incredibly beautiful.

 
  Beautiful book covers . Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi, illustrated by Sara Fanelli. Book covers are very difficult to get right. If no one has ever heard of you or your book, it’s the cover that does all the work. Actually, even if people  have  heard of you and your book, it’s still important to have a strong cover. The image, the title, or  perhaps  simply the typeface the title is written in, can be the reason someone decides to pick up the book and take a look inside.

Beautiful book covers. Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi, illustrated by Sara Fanelli. Book covers are very difficult to get right. If no one has ever heard of you or your book, it’s the cover that does all the work. Actually, even if people have heard of you and your book, it’s still important to have a strong cover. The image, the title, or perhaps simply the typeface the title is written in, can be the reason someone decides to pick up the book and take a look inside.

 My friend's china cup.

My friend's china cup.

 Peonies.

Peonies.

  Candy and the Rocking Horse by Gwyneth Mamlok  sadly, can only be bought second hand but I wish this were not the case. Read by my family so many times that yellowing Sellotape criss-crosses every page but still I think this is my favourite Christmas picture book of all. Candy sees a rocking horse in a shop window and decides to save up for it by forgoing sweets and using her pocket money (which she seems to earn from doing helpful chores – what a child!) But tragedy strikes, before she has got anywhere close to buying it, the horse is sold. Candy is very downcast but doesn’t whine or wail, instead she uses her savings to buy presents for her nearest and dearest. Of course it turns out that it is her parents who have bought the horse. I love the enterprise of the child, I love that she yearns for something enough to save for it, I love that she gets it in the end. 

Candy and the Rocking Horse by Gwyneth Mamlok sadly, can only be bought second hand but I wish this were not the case. Read by my family so many times that yellowing Sellotape criss-crosses every page but still I think this is my favourite Christmas picture book of all. Candy sees a rocking horse in a shop window and decides to save up for it by forgoing sweets and using her pocket money (which she seems to earn from doing helpful chores – what a child!) But tragedy strikes, before she has got anywhere close to buying it, the horse is sold. Candy is very downcast but doesn’t whine or wail, instead she uses her savings to buy presents for her nearest and dearest. Of course it turns out that it is her parents who have bought the horse. I love the enterprise of the child, I love that she yearns for something enough to save for it, I love that she gets it in the end. 

 
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 Jaws book jacket and movie poster illustration by Roger Kastel.1974.

Jaws book jacket and movie poster illustration by Roger Kastel.1974.