World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Helen Oxenbury

Article Id: WHEBN0018020459
Reproduction Date:

Title: Helen Oxenbury  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Raymond Briggs, Nestlé Smarties Book Prize, Kate Greenaway Medal
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Helen Oxenbury

Helen Gillian Oxenbury (born 1938) is an English author and illustrator of picture books. She lives in North London with her husband John Burningham, another children's literature author and illustrator.[1] She is a two-time winner and four-time runner up for the annual Kate Greenaway Medal, the British librarians' award for illustration.[2][lower-alpha 1] For the 50th anniversary of that Medal (1955–2005) her 1999 illustrated edition of Alice in Wonderland was named one of the top ten winning works.[3]


Helen Oxenbury was born in 1938 in Ipswich, Suffolk.[4] Her father was an architect. From an early age she developed a passion for drawing. On leaving school she attended the Ipswich School of Art as a teenager, and during holidays she worked at a small theatre in Felixstowe and at the Ipswich Repertory Theatre Workshop, mixing paints.[5] She went on to study in London at the Central School of Art and Design (1957-1959), where she met her future husband, John Burningham.

In her adult life she embarked on a career in theatre, film and television. She worked as assistant designer at Colchester Repertory Theatre, and for three years as painter and designer for the Habima Theatre in Tel Aviv, Israel. In 1962 she returned to Britain and did some design work for ABC Television and Shepperton Film Studios.

After marrying the children's book illustrator John Burningham in 1964, she turned to illustrating children’s books herself. In 1988 she created a series of books about a mischievous young boy called Tom, and his stuffed monkey, Pippo. She commented that Tom was very much like her own son in his younger years. Like Tom, her son would often blame his misdeeds on an accomplice (the family dog).[6] She continues to illustrate books. Some of her most recent work includes the illustrations for "The Growing Story" in the September 2008 edition of Bayard Presse's StoryBox magazine.


Oxenbury is one of fourteen illustrators to win two Kate Greenaway Medals (established 1955); Burningham is another. At the time, the annual award by the British Library Association recognised the year's best children's book illustration by a British subject; two books were occasionally cited; there was no cash prize. Oxenbury won the Medal in 1969; the two books cited were The Quangle Wangle's Hat, an edition of Edward Lear's 19th-century poem,[7] and The Dragon of an Ordinary Family, a new story by Margaret Mahy, both published by Heinemann.[8] From 1989 to 1994 she was the Highly Commended runner up four times[2][lower-alpha 1] and she won again for an edition of Alice in Wonderland (Walker, 1999). CILIP's retrospective citation says, "More abundantly illustrated than previous editions ... Alice herself is a child of today – casually dressed, personable and spirited."[9] Alice was named one of the top ten Greenaway Medal-winning works by a 2007 panel, composing the ballot for a public election of the all-time favourite.[3]

Oxenbury won two "Emils", the Kurt Maschler Award by the Maschler publishers and Booktrust that annually (1982 to 1999) recognised one "work of imagination for children, in which text and illustration are integrated so that each enhances and balances the other." The first was for So Much by Trish Cooke, one of her Greenaway runners up, and the second for Alice.[10]

Oxenbury also won three Nestlé Smarties Book Prizes (1985 to 2007), all in the 0–5 years category. The Smarties Prize winners were elected by children from shortlists composed by a panel. Oxenbury-illustrated picture books were the overall winners for 1989, We're Going on a Bear Hunt retold by Michael Rosen, and for 1991, Farmer Duck by Martin Waddell, another Greenaway runner up. So Much was the 1994 age group winner.

Farmer Duck was also the 1991 Illustrated Children's Book of the Year (British Book Awards). Tickle, Tickle, written and illustrated by Oxenbury, won the 1999 Booktrust Early Years Award. In the United States, Big Momma Makes the World by Phillis Root won the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award, picture books category.

Selected works

These are all children's books.

WorldCat reports that Oxenbury's works most widely held in participating libraries are three of her Greenaway Medal runners up, all written by other authors: We're Going on a Bear Hunt (1989), Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig (1993), and Farmer Duck (1991).[11]

  • The Quangle Wangle's Hat (Heinemann, 1969), by Edward Lear (late 19th century)
—joint winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal[7]
  • The Dragon of an Ordinary Family (Heinemann, 1969), by Margaret Mahy
—joint winner of the Greenaway Medal[8]
  • Pig Tale (1973), written in rhyme and illustrated
  • Cakes and Custard (Heinemann, 1975_, children's rhymes selected by Brian Alderson (children's book critic)
  • I can (1985), a board book for babies
  • I hear (1985), a board book for babies
  • I see (1985), a board book for babies
  • The Helen Oxenbury Nursery Story Book (1985), familiar folk tales
  • All Fall Down (1987), written and illustrated
  • Clap Hands (1987), written and illustrated
  • Say Goodnight (1987), written and illustrated
  • We're Going on a Bear Hunt (Walker, 1989), retold by Michael Rosen
—winner of the Nestlé Smarties Book Prize (age 0–5 and overall)
—Greenaway runner up, Highly Commended[2][lower-alpha 1]
—winner of the British Illustrated Children's Book of the Year and the Smarties Prize (age 0–5 and overall)[12]
—Greenaway runner up, Highly Commended[2][lower-alpha 1]
—Greenaway runner up, Highly Commended[2][lower-alpha 1]
  • It's My Birthday (1993), written and illustrated
  • So Much (Walker), 1994, by Trish Cooke
—winner of the Kurt Maschler Award[10] and the Smarties Prize (ages 0–5 years)
—Greenaway runner up, Highly Commended[2][lower-alpha 1]
  • Tickle, Tickle (1999), written and illustrated
Booktrust Early Years Award
—winner of the Kurt Maschler Award[10] and the Kate Greenaway Medal[9]
  • Franny B. Kranny, There's a Bird in Your Hair (2000), by Harriet Goldhor Lerner
  • Big Momma Makes the World (2002), by Phyllis Root
—winner of the 2003 Boston Globe–Horn Book Award, Picture Book
  • Alice Through the Looking Glass (Walker, 2005), an edition of Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll (1871)
  • The Growing Story (2007), by [1]
  • Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes (2008), by Mem Fox
  • There's Going to Be a Baby (2010), by John Burningham

Further reading

  • D. Martin, 'Helen Oxenbury', in Douglas Martin, The Telling Line Essays On Fidteen Contemporary Book Illustrators (1989), p.202-214

See also



External links

  • StoryBox Website

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.