We collate a list of books that have influenced our featured writers and illustrators. Find your inspiration here too.
J.H. Low is the author-illustrator behind this year’s key visual, which illuminates AFCC’s theme of “Lit Up!”. These are the books closest to his heart.
Who says picturebooks must always be about rainbows and roses?
The Lost Thing by Shaun Tan
The Lost Thing is a short story about a boy who finds a weird looking creature who has lost its way. For some unexplained reason, the boy is the only person who can see the creature, so he takes it upon himself to help the creature return to its home. This is an introspective story that makes us reflect on what precious things we might have lost unknowingly as we journey through life.
The Mysteries Of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg
The Mysteries Of Harris Burdick is not a conventional picture book that we are accustomed to. Instead of telling a story, it is a collection of independent pictures masterfully illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg. Each picture is mysterious and each leaves much space for readers' imagination and interpretation. A delightful book to ponder over on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
Duck, Death and the Tulip by Wolf Erlbruch
Duck, Death and the Tulip is a picturebook about death, an uncomfortable topic for children. Yet, Wolf Erlbruch is able to present this serious and profound issue in a poetic and elegant manner that children can relate to. Who says picturebooks must always be about rainbows and roses?
Get a quick glimpse into the wondrous mind of Ajia as he explores the books that have influenced him as a boy.
My love for Shakespeare remains to this day.
King Lear by William Shakespeare
This comic (lianhuanhua) in Chinese, made me cry totally unprepared. I loved the story, but didn’t know until I was a grown-up that it was originally written by Shakespeare. My love for Shakespeare remains to this day.
湖北人民出版社, 1981–2008 (Hubei People's Press)
Fantastic number 9 by Yang Yongxian
It’s kind of a non-fiction book but has some story line in it. It made Maths fun for me and really helped me improve my Maths grades then.
中国少年儿童出版社, 1979 (China Children Press and Publication Group)
Flying to Sagittarius by Zheng Wenguang
It’s my first science fiction novel. I read it at least twice then and have never stopped reading science fiction till now.
人民文学出版社, 1979 (People's Literature Publishing House)
Avianti’s all-time favourites are titles familiar to many of us. She tells us why they are special to her.
Reading Peter Pan makes us believe that if there is one place to call home, it is childhood.
Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
Peter Pan has a poetic narrative structure and is rich in imagination. Layer upon layer of metaphors compose a child's world which is magical and free from any limitations. In his narrative, J.M. Barrie seemed to be able to get into children’s heads and tell stories from their perspective. He did not remove negative things and emotions from the story, such as loneliness, the longing for mother, desire to rebel, anger, jealousy and quarrels. He also cleverly presents the basic nature of children who are easy to forget, easy to forgive, and easily happy. Reading Peter Pan makes us believe that if there is one place to call home, it is childhood.
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Almost all adults forget that being a child is having an independent mind: from what is possible and what is not, what is normal and what is bizarre. A child is also free to express all kinds of feelings, including love. The Little Prince is present in the solitude of our adult life (represented by the pilot – quite possibly the author himself, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry), and summoning the hidden (maybe even dead) childhood souls within us.
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
In Charlotte’s Web, we are invited to revisit human relationships with their surroundings: are animals just tools in our consumption production scheme, or are they our fellow inhabitants of the world who have the right to live happily and prosperously? Charlotte the spider surprises us and makes us learn again about sacrifice, friendship and love. These things are always echoed by religions, and they change history in a totally different way.
Piers’ combined love for children’s literature and nature is what sets him apart from many writers. These are among his classic picks.
Wind in The Willows is a classic that combines the love of writing for nature among young people and a lifetime obsession with talking animals.
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
A golden classic of children’s literature, which gave me an enduring love for the pastoral and lyrical writing about nature for young people, as well as a lifetime obsession with talking animals.
The Animals of Farthing Wood by Colin Dann
A classic climate change animal-based quest story, possibly the original and the best, a huge inspiration for The Last Wild.
Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien
A strange, utterly original book, and brilliant movie, that lit up my taste for stories about conflict between the relentless human instinct for scientific progress and the needs of the natural world.
Jill's childhood favourites consist of adventures and heroic figures which she relates closely to everyday life.
The James Herriot books made me see how many stories and adventures there can be in normal, everyday life… they can be lovely, or unpleasant, or stoic, or unhappy – but (almost) always interesting.
Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll
I’m not a fan of all of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland or Through the Looking-Glass, but the poem Jabberwocky was something my brother, my sister and I knew pretty well. I can still recite it from memory. It was fun, it was silly, yet it had a dramatic story in it and it could be acted or hammed up. It made you realise how fun words can be. Two favourite lines from it: “And, as in uffish thought he stood…” – what the heck is that? – and “The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!” – very satisfying to say out loud.
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
I loved and still love the blend of down-to-earth themes (siblings, emotions, what to eat?), fantastic, sometimes scary, magical worlds, and “larger” ideas, for example of good vs. evil (battling the White Witch), or of holding fast to a quest (Puddleglum in The Silver Chair). I liked reading, on the page, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader for its sense of adventure and dreaminess, but I found that The Magician’s Nephew, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and The Silver Chair were the best for reading aloud to my children when they were younger because they were such exciting, fast-paced stories with tension, baddies, relatable main characters and everything that makes books enjoyable.
All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot
The James Herriot books made me see how many stories and adventures there can be in normal, everyday life (if you’re a vet in Yorkshire, that is) and that people aren’t all the same – they can be lovely, or unpleasant, or stoic, or unhappy – but (almost) always interesting.
Avery’s childhood favourites will bring a sense of familiarity to some of us. Here we get snippets of what influenced her to see out of her comfort zone.
Anne of Green Gables and Sequels helped me to explore circumstances quite different from my own—orphanhood, life a century prior, life in Canada…
Our Best Friends by Gyo Fujikawa, Grosset & Dunlap
When I was small, my parents read me this picture book by Japanese American illustrator-author Gyo Fujikawa. I loved “Mary, Harry, and Larry, Smudge, Doll, and Mouse, Spots, Mops, and Peeps” and would chime in saying “Peeps!” when Mom and Dad “forgot” to say it.
The Baby-Sitters Club Books by Ann M. Martin
As an elementary school student, I hunted for volumes of this series at bookstores, libraries, and even garage sales and traded them with my sister. It has been interesting to reminisce about them while watching the Netflix reboot of the series with my own two daughters.
Anne of Green Gables and Sequels by L. M. Montgomery
These books helped me to explore circumstances quite different from my own—orphanhood, life a century prior, life in Canada—while I also identified powerfully with the heroine's love of reading and determination to express herself using the written word.