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Ask the expert: 8 great illustrated children’s books

With a new school year on the horizon it’s the perfect time to fire up your mini muddies imaginations with this list of the best illustrated books compiled by Holly Millbank founder of Fat Fox a fab new independent book publishing company – based right here in Kent. Come now, let the wild rumpus start!


Publisher, Holly, also mum to three young children, says:

‘I love how the imagery in a book – from highly colourful picture books through to black and white sketched young adult novels – work intrinsically with the story – bringing the words and the sentiment of the book to life.’

‘I feel that a visual narrative is so important, that we have in fact recently even published a young adult book that has beautiful sketches on almost every page which is very rare in the YA market. The feedback from thousands of readers of this book has been dominated by how the illustrations enhance the story and increase the enjoyment of reading it.’

‘But when I was asked by Muddy Stiletto’s to pick my eight favourite illustrated children’s books – I went into a blind panic!  There are far too many beautifully illustrated books out there to choose from!  With lots of umming and ahhing,  I have whittled a list together – and I think these are amongst my favourite:’

Picture books

1.Where The Wild Things Are – written and illustrated by Maurice Sendak


Any book that can still look utterly relevant fifty years after being first published is an extraordinary feat.  The story is perfectly pitched and utterly readable over and over again, and the drawings just get more beautiful and interesting over time.

2. The Moose Belongs To Me – written and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers


I love Oliver Jeffers’ work and I particularly like how diverse he is.  Some of his books have a simplistic almost cartoon feel about them, but this book has more depth and detail to the drawings that I simply adore. I am a sucker for wintery, mountainous drawings – and Oliver does this perfectly with the Canadian wilderness background in this book.

3. Lili – written and illustrated by Wen Dee Tan


This simple, gorgeous tale is perfectly illustrated with heavy line drawings and shading – and just a splash of red for the characters wild, fiery hair. Malaysian-born Wen Dee Tan has won awards and been shortlisted several times for this book because of it’s beautiful simplicity with a moving and warm tale.

4. The Tiger Who Came To Tea – written and illustrated by Judith Kerr



This is a classic that never fails to make me smile with both the story and the drawings.  I love the juxtaposition of the traditional, wholesome illustrations against the absurdity of the story.

5. Little Bell And The Moon – written by Giles Paley-Phillips, illustrated by Iris Deppe

Little Bell And The Moon

Giles has captured a very difficult subject for children – death – absolutely perfectly in this book by making it magical. And the story is elevated by Iris Deppe’s exquisite, dream-like illustrations of night-time skies and adventures.

Books for older children and young adults

6. The Imaginary – written by A.F Harrold and illustrated by Emily Gravett


It is fairly rare to find highly illustrated novels for older children – and especially ones that captivate you on every page.  The Imaginary has done this perfectly and this novel is an absolute visual feast.

8. The Pomegranate Tree – written by Vanessa Altin and illustrated by Faye Moorhouse

Pomegranate Tree


It is even rarer to find a young adult book that is illustrated – and to enhance the diary inserts written by a teenage Syrian refugee girl in this book – the black and white sketches really make you feel as if you are reading her personal and harrowing account of her escape from Syria.


Are you a budding author? Or illustrator? Want to get your work published? Fat Fox books will host it’s first ‘Children’s Publishing: Ask the Experts’ day in April 2017, bringing the leading experts in children’s publishing together and shedding light on how it all works.

Set amongst picturesque pole barns and hay bales in the Kent countryside, you’ll listen to inspiring sessions, enjoy home-made snacks and lunch and be given the chance to meet like-minded individuals, as well as all-important contacts within the industry.

Day’s entry costs £189, Timings: 9.30 – 6pm, Brick House Farm, Kent, TN26 3HU,

Find more ideas here

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