A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.
Have you ever kept a book not because you liked the story, or were interested in the subject, but because the cover art and the illustrations were so beautiful you could not let them go? As a child I loved the books in my shelves for their paperback covers, with matching inside illustrations, mainly Puffins from the 1960s and 1970s.
A year or so ago, I was overjoyed to find a whole book full of Puffin covers – Phil Baines’s Puffin By Design – which I bought for myself (rather guiltily) for Christmas, and occasionally gloat over when there’s no-one looking. It reeks with memories for me, because I owned or read or borrowed most of the books whose covers are gathered inside. But it’s also infuriating , because it’s just the covers. It’s like being given the catalogue to every book I ever read, but without the stories.
Here is something very similar, still on the same nostalgia trip – Petra’s Cupboard. A website of illustration that plunges me back into the pictures that illuminated my childhood reading, with all their power, fear, horror, beauty, magic and incomprehension.
All the illustrators whose names I knew because they fascinated me are here – Charles Keeping, Edward Ardizzone, Pauline Baynes, Tove Jansson, Victor Ambrus (he of Time Team!), Cynthia Harnett – and quite a few who I instantly recognised but never knew their names – Maurice Lalau, Brian Wildsmith, Norman Price. This site is packed with richness and outstanding art; it links to the sites of artists still working or to the agents of those who aren’t, and is a beautiful place to get lost. Go look.