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The cover of this issue is a design incorporating illustrations from four books illustrated by the subject of our Authorgraph, Ian Beck. The top left illustration is from Five Little Ducks (Orchard), the top right from Poppy and Pip's Picnic (to be published Autumn '97 by HarperCollins), the bottom left from The Owl and the Pussy-cat (Transworld) and the bottom right from Home Before Dark (to be published September '97 by Scholastic). Ian Beck's Picture Book (Hippo) is reviewed in this issue.
Beck talks to BfK's interviewer, Julia Eccleshare, also in this issue. His distinctive decorative style with its sensitive pen line and cross hatching has a nostalgic but sometimes also a surreal quality - he describes it as 'a look that is floating, strong and wistful all at the same time'.
Thanks to Orchard, HarperCollins, Transworld and Scholastic for their help in producing this composite cover.
Charlie's dilemma is to choose just one of his soft toys to keep him company on an overnight visit to Grandpa's: each of his toys has an important job and thinks that it should be chosen, but in the end the small mouse who will sleep on his pillow all night is the one Charlie values most. Smee's illustrations, in soft clear colours, give a good-humoured view of family life, with some lovely facial expressions on the part of both toys and people, and this story provides Nursery and Reception children with a good starting point for discussion of their own need for comforting objects when in unfamiliar situations. I found the text a bit cumbersome at times, and there is potential for confusion among the very youngest readers as the story slips out of chronological sequence rather unobtrusively, but many children will enjoy considering Charlie's options and will empathise with his final choice.