Much-loved illustrators including Quentin Blake and Helen Oxenbury have reimagined the Famous Five to mark the 70th anniversary of the adventurous quintet’s first appearance, bringing new looks to Enid Blyton’s classic characters.
Blyton’s publisher approached Blake with the idea of celebrating 70 years since the author introduced the world to the Famous Five with Five on a Treasure Island in 1942. Blake was immediately enthusiastic and the project was widened to include Oxenbury, the award-winning children’s illustrator known for her work on Michael Rosen’s We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, Emma Chichester Clark, Oliver Jeffers and Chris Riddell.
“When I first wrote to Quentin Blake with this idea, it seemed a long shot,” admitted Anne McNeil, publishing director of Hodder Children’s Books. “His response, however, was enthusiastic and open. Mr Blake was keen to explore the idea of linking the Famous Five with five of the nation’s favourite illustrators.”
Blake, best known for his illustrations of Roald Dahl’s books, has brought his iconic style to bear on Five on a Treasure Island, showing Julian, Dick and Anne, their cousin the tomboy George and her dog Timmy picking their way through the rocks to Kirrin Island in George’s boat. Oxenbury has tackled Five Go Adventuring Again, Riddell has taken on Five Go Off in a Caravan, Jeffers Five Go to Smuggler’s Top and Chichester Clark Five Run Away Together.
“It is always a wonderful challenge for illustrators to create new images for iconic words and it is fascinating to see how Helen Oxenbury, Chris Riddell, Emma Chichester Clark and Oliver Jeffers have risen to the challenge,” said Blake. “In doing so, they have breathed new life into favourite stories for those who know them well and those who are discovering them for the first time.” Out in May, priced at £5.99, a percentage of royalties from the sale of each limited edition book will go to the House of Illustration charity.
Blyton died in 1968, leaving behind over 600 children’s books. Hodder still sells more than half-a-million Famous Five books a year. “The Famous Five are held in deep affection up and down the country,” said McNeil. “We identify, it seems, with these children who are so full of optimism and life. As the publishers of the Famous Five, Hodder Children’s Books holds in its care a real reading legacy. We are mindful of this, and of the responsibility that it entails. Seventy years is a long time, and very much worthy of a celebration.”
Thanks to the Guardian for this one!