Thursday Thirteen - 289 - 13 Influential Books From My School Days

by Julia Phillips Smith

It's going to seem somewhat bizarre, considering that I write in the darker, definitely-not-YA fantasy and vampire/horror genres, but as the season turns to the cool nights of fall and the leaves get ready to spin and twirl along the ground, my thoughts speed back in time to my childhood books and the illustrations inside them that transported me.

Being a visual person who graduated with a film degree instead of an English degree, it's no wonder that the drawings from these books are what have stayed with me the most. It's so strongly embedded in me that when the light is just right and the clouds look just so, the real world around me takes a back seat and I'm once again in the world of little witches or time-travelling children.

Here's a tip of the hat for the artists who shaped this writer/filmmaker: 

Patricia Coombs is the author/illustrator of this series

2 - The Chronicles of Narnia original paperback series

Pauline Baynes' was the illustrator for the Narnia series  

Bill Melendez animated the Christmas classic that captured little moments like wintery sunsets against chain link fences

Garth Williams was the illustrator for this series. Sometimes all I see are his versions of clouds. 

Tadasu Izawa was the artist who created these 3-D puppet books. Oh, how I loved these!

C. W. Anderson was the illustrator for the Blaze series. Sometimes when I see a spot open up in the woods, I'm back inside these books.

7 - Miss Suzy

Arnold Lobel was the illustrator behind this charming series. As a kid, my doll house was a real draw for me, let me tell you. I love the way the squirrel sets up house in one.

Barbara Remington is the illustrator of this book. It's no wonder I couldn't get enough of these images, where the goings-on are high-stakes life-and-death, and a pirate hat becomes a lifesaving boat.

P. D. Eastman was the illustrator of this book. Forever more, there are some trees that are simply Go, Dog. Go! trees. That is all.

10 - Anatole

Paul Galdone was the illustrator for the Anatole series. As a night owl, even in childhood, I was definitely drawn to all of the nighttime drawings as the mouse cheesetaster did his overnight shift.

11 - Madeline

Ludwig Bemelmans was the illustrator for this stylish series. Always loved the European buildings, the overcast rainy days, and the gothic feel of the whole thing.

 Team of 11 animators -- it's hard to explain how the feel of these images have stayed with me so strongly. I especially love the undersea kingdom segments.

Osamu Tezuka -- last but not least! The Godfather of Anime, this animator created Prince of the Jungle, Kimba with whom I strongly, strongly identified as a young child. I would even mimic the way Kimba's paws ran through puddles when I was in the bathtub. There are old-growth trees that bring to mind one of the episodes where Kimba had to wind a vine around and around an ancient tree to save it, during another of my favorite gothic storm scenes.


What childhood illustrations or animations have stayed with you?

Photo by Helen Tansey

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