My favourite gift this Christmas (Thank you husband) was a re-issue of The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, illustrated by Lauren Child.
Parents will recognize Child as the writer and illustrator of the Charlie and Lola books and TV series, although I first came across her as co-creator of a gorgeous version of the fairy tale The Princess and the Pea. The illustrations for this book are actually photographs of little stage sets with Child’s character drawings placed within them.
In 2010 Child designed a cover for The Secret Garden for Puffin’s 70th anniversary. It came in a perspex box, in a limited edition of 1,000, cost £100 and sold out incredibly quickly.
Luckily another Lauren Child illustrated version of the story was published this year to celebrate the book’s centenary and it is just lovely. It is a fabric covered hardback, with six full colour plates and black and white drawings scattered through the text. She has used a variety of materials in the pictures so curtains and dresses and sometimes even trees or bricks are made with fabric or old paper. There’s a real depth and humour to each picture that rewards close inspection.
This same wit and piling on of print and texture is evident in a collaboration she did with Liberty fabrics. There is a lovely account of the design process on her website here
Images 1-4 by Lauren Child, Image 5 by Lauren Child/Liberty