From first picture books to modern classics, some of the finest children's books of the last 40 years have not only comprised of the best stories or most compelling characters, but have also been filled with some of the most beautiful illustrations of our time - lifting the words from the page to bring the books to life.
Plying his talents to the books of a number of great children's authors including Jon Blake, Paul Shipton and David Henry Wilson to name but a few, Axel Scheffler is one of the most respected children's illustrators of the post-War era. Known for his distinctive cartoon-like pictures, and of course the works he has created with Julia Donaldson including The Gruffalo and the Stick Man, the creator's bright, soft and approachable illustrations make them some of the best for young children.
A children's illustrator who needs no introduction, Korky Paul's creative, lively and wild watercolour illustrations could be considered to be in a somewhat similar style to the illustrations of Quentin Blake, but Korky Paul stands alone as a tremendous illustrator of children's books in his own right and has done so for over 25 years. Providing anarchic yet detailed artwork for some of the best-loved children's stories of a generation, including Valerie Thomas's Winnie the Witch, the wild characterisations, visual jokes and clever details are what make illustrations by Korky Paul stand out amongst the rest.
A fine artist and author, Nick Sharratt - the illustrator for over 40 books by the award-winning Jacqueline Wilson - somehow manages to put highly animated characters to page whilst utilising a very shallow depth of field. Simplistic, joy-filled and bold, the Tracy Beaker illustrator has won multiple awards for his illustrative efforts - and we can most certainly see why!
No list of children's illustrators would be complete without Dear Zoo author and illustrator Rod Campbell. Dear Zoo is a classic picture book that taught generations of young bookworms to fall in love with the charming story of a child who keeps receiving the wrong pets from the zoo. Approachable, clear and always happy, when you see illustrations by Rod Campbell you know exactly what you are going to get from the book: an absolute bedtime winner!
The rhymes and colourful characters of the Dr. Seuss universe have been entertaining young children for years. Quirky rhymes coupled with the very human features of the Doctor's less-than-average children's characters combine to great effect. Penning such classics as The Cat in the Hat, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Lorax and many, many more, Dr. Seuss is sure to tickle the fancy of any reader who is yet to be entertained by the stark, minimally coloured illustrations.
Most famous for his work with the world's best storyteller Roald Dahl, and with a Kate Greenway Medal and Hans Christian Andersen Award for Illustration to his name, Sir Quentin Blake's illustrations are some of the most interesting you will find in children's literature today. You can spot illustrations by Quentin Blake - a former Children's Laureate - a mile off! Charmingly imperfect and providing a child-like innocence to the dark undertones of Dahl's books including Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The BFG, The Twits, George's Marvellous Medicine and many, many more, Quentin Blake's illustrations (including those in his own children's books) ooze distinctive character, irresistible humour and create an meshing between the page and pictures that no other illustrator is able to replicate.
We could never pick a favourite between these fantastic illustrators - every one of them deserves their place on this list for making children's literature as bright and fun as it is! Illustrations are a great way to help kids follow narratives from a young age and we're very grateful to to all these illustrators for helping us and our children become bookworms.