Sunday, April 24, 2011

24th April Bert Kitchen (1940)

Last year on this date I celebrated three birthdays, Evaline Ness, Dorothy Butler and Margaret Wild, but subsequently I have learned that today is also English illustrator Bert Kitchen's birthday and I have to tell you about one of my all time favourite books, Tenrec's Twigs. This story set in Madagascar is about a tenrec, a real animal, but one I had never heard of, who builds these amazing structures from twigs. Along the way he chats to other animals, native to Madagascar, such as a pangolin, a giraffe and a sloth. The animal illustrations are meticulous, accurate and so appealing that I want to linger on each. The story has interesting themes, in creativity and purposefulness and allows for plenty of discussion and debate as well as introducing readers to animals, their habitat and distinctive characteristics. Bert Kitchen seems to specialise in animal illustrations and even the books in my library that are not factual, such as his Ugly Duckling and The Lion and the Mouse and Other Aesop Fables are still predominantly illustrated with animals.

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