Children's book review: illustrations by Alison Jay

Monday, 26 January 2015

One of the things I think I'd like to do this year is blog a bit more about books. I enjoyed writing my Unputdownables 2014 post a lot, so I want to write a bit more about reading this year.

Anyway, I'm kicking off with children's books (I do read grown up books. Promise). Jellybean has a big collection of books, because, well, she's my child, and I have a book buying problem. I love reading with her, I love beautiful illustrations and cute little stories, I just ... love it. It's such a nice bonding time for me and her, when I'm not too busy doing other things, just to sit quietly with her and read a nice story.

However, she has favourites, and some of them are really random, and *whispers* really boring. Sometimes I try and steer her in the direction of a book we haven't read a thousand times before, but Jellybean is extremely decisive when it comes to what books she'd like to read. If she doesn't like it, we get a page in and she says 'Nope!', shuts it, and reaches for the next one.

Fortunately she likes Alison Jay. Which is preserving my sanity for a bit longer.

My lovely sister in law bought 'If Kisses Were Colours' for us for Christmas, because when she stopped to read it in the shop, it nearly made her cry (I'm sure she'll be thrilled that I told everyone that). It is written by Janet Lawler, and illustrated by Alison Jay, whose pictures are so beautiful that they make me want to cry too.

It seems to just hit me right in the soppy-new-mother spot. It's just ... it's just so sweet. A cute, simple story about a mother's love for her baby, but told in such a sweet way, with beautiful, fantastical images to pour over.

'Counting' is a simple book about numbers, so not much of a story. However, Jay has set this book in a world of fairy tales and it is just so FLIPPING LOVELY.

It feels a bit like stepping into a vivid dream set in fairy tale land. It's full of angry bears and scary wolves and magic beans and pretty princesses and giant sweets and frog princes. So what could have been another boring book about counting becomes something much, much more interesting. Plus, there is so much to look at in the illustrations, it keeps me amused even on the fiftieth re-read. Some of the illustrations have references to the next or previous page, too -  a frog prince from page 5 leaping across the duck pond in page 6, for instance. Which is also cute.

We got 'Counting' from the library and it is definitely well-loved. I can see us renewing this one before we take it back.

So if you're looking for beautiful, sweet board books for small children that are lovely to look at as an adult, too, I'd recommend these!

Counting and If Kisses Were Colours are published by Templar Publishing.


  1. If you wish to be a children's book illustrator, you need to possess not just the skills and talent, but also the passion and a genuine interest in children's stories. Most storybooks are about fanciful stories and animated characters-talking plants and animals, superheroes and aliens, moving objects, fairies and elves. You need to have enough creativity and enthusiasm for bringing such characters into life on paper. childrens book illustrations


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