I’ve written about thirty children’s books and have written for VeggieTales — so you can imagine that every now and again people ask me to recommend children’s books. The little-known “Tim” books, written and illustrated by Edward Ardizzone (1900-1979) have to be among the best children’s picture books in existence, and they are the first books I would recommend to anyone, and now recommend to you. Ardizzone’s illustrations have a Victorian feel to them, as do his stories.
There are eleven “Tim” books, which Ardizzone wrote between 1936 and 1977. All of them are available here, at Amazon.com. There is so much to like about these books. There is an innocence and a wit to them that puts them at the top of my list. Ardizzone was the first winner of the prestigious Kate Greenaway Medal for children’s book illustration in 1956. A terrific 1966 Maurice Sendak review of Ardizzone’s Tim and Ginger, can be read here.
I’m also a big fan of Robert McCloskey’s first book, the incredibly charming Lentil. McCloskey wrote and illustrated it in 1940,
years before his Caldecott-winner, Make Way for Ducklings or his other more popular books, like Blueberries for Sal, which I also love. McCloskey’s early-19th century American town and the characters that inhabit Lentil are a delight.
My favorite line: “There sat Old Sneep, sucking on a lemon.” SHLURP! Click here to order Lentil.