Three birthdays! Firstly, Blair Lent, the American illustrator of Arlene Mosel's classics Tikki Tikki Tembo and The Funny Little Woman and Elphinstone Dayrell's African folk tale Why the Sun and the Moon Live in the Sky. Some sources say his birthday is the 20th, others 22nd and I have no way of confirming which at the moment.
The next birthday is the English author illustrator, Brian Wildsmith who was born on the same day, but is still alive. His illustrations are so very different from Lent's, mainly because his trademark is bold colour. Like Eric Carle was doing in America, Wildsmith was creating a brightly coloured very inviting collection of books. He grew up in a mining village where everything was gray and he wanted to see colour. He has said, "I believe that beautiful picture books are vitally important in subconsciously forming a child's visual appreciation, which will bear fruit in later life." If you want to be bombarded with wonderful illustrations and colour go to Google's Wildsmith images and revel in just how many there are. I would love to visit the museum in Japan that is dedicated to his work and where over 800 of his original artworks are on loan. It is hard to single out books of his...there are so many...but today three:
1. Cat on the Mat because it is the book that every child should learn to read on. It does exactly what you want...has very strong picture text ties...it is repetitive...it uses high frequency sight words and most importantly it looks like a real book, not a reader.
2. Professor Noah's Spaceship because it is clever and puts the story of Noah in a modern context where pollution is a problem. And
3. Animal Gallery because it has superb illustrations with some very novel collective nouns. The last in the book is a 'dray of squirrels' very fitting as yesterday was Squirrel Appreciation Day. He also has a book called Squirrels, but unfortunately it is out of print.
And, lastly English author Tony Bradman. He is responsible for so many wonderful stories that have been published as bridging novels by Orchard books. The children in my library have learned about King Arthur, Robin Hood and Beowulf from him. They have laughed while reading his Happily Ever After series of twisted fairytales and recently they have discovered Tom who is the main character in the Creaky Castle books.