Earlier this morning, I was having a bit of a clean up. And came across this little book… Immediately I was propelled back 30 years or more. When I was about six or seven it was one of my absolute favourites. I loved the ladybird books—interesting to see how (for all of us early 70s children) they have suddenly started appearing at street markets and bookstalls—but of all of them, these Nature series illustrated by Tunnicliffe were ones that I returned to again and again.
Of course, it was only later in life that I learned more about Charles Tunnicliffe and his wonderful illustrations—in both watercolour and wood engraving, and later scraper-board as his eyesight began to fail. When I was young, it was the microcosm within a page that transported me (although I didn’t know it at the time). The book at once brought home the deep chill of the shortest days of midwinter and ended with the optimism of spring.
Looking back now, there is a nostalgia, a poignancy, for the lost countryside of 1959 (when What to Look for in Winter was first published). A few pages here.
Why do I crave a publisher producing books for young children as beautiful, as richly illustrated, and as packed with knowledge, today?