For several generations, John Burningham’s work was childhood, be it his own picture books (i.e. Mr Gumpy's Outing, Courtney, or Avocado Baby) or his occasional projects for texts not his own (The Wind in the Willows, the sadly out of print Chitty Chitty Bang Bang). Twice winner of the Kate Greenaway Medals, Burningham debuted as a children’s writer and illustrator in 1963 with Borka: The Adventures of a Goose with No Feathers, kick-starting a career that would cover over sixty books. He passed away in 2019.
Burningham resolutely refused to talk down to children, his picture books brimming with playful sophistication and a refusal to give absolutely everything away. Married to fellow writer and illustrator Helen Oxenbury, despite his evident genius at the drawing board Burningham was always cautiously modest about his talents. ‘I quite like having achieved something,’ he once said of his work, ‘but the building up to doing a drawing is no easier for me now than it was 50 years ago, and I don’t really feel I have any ability until I manage to produce something that works.’