"Shirley Hughes is a national treasure." --Philip Pullman
"It is Alfie's 30th birthday. Shirley Hughes has compiled an omnibus entitled All About Alfie. The opening painting sets the scene for the birthday boy." --Jan Lee, Oxford Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Shirley is married to an architect, now retired, and they have lived in the same family house, overlooking a London square garden, for more than forty years. They have, to date, six grandchildren who keep them on their toes.In Her Own Words...
"I grew up in a nice, quiet, well-behaved suburb of Liverpool. But our uneventful lives were rudely interrupted by the outbreak of World War II. Wewent to school carrrying gas masks, did air-raid shelter drills, saved Up mountains of scrap metal, and attempted to knit Mufflers for the troops. (Mine were very long; I never quite got the hang of casting off.) I slept under the stairs (hiring the winter of the big blitz, when we saw the sky over Liverpool lit by searchlights, tracer bullets, and Fires from the burning docks.
"All this may sound very exciting, But the problem with wartime is that when it's not frightening, it's deadly dull. You can't go on holiday, the grown-ups are too harassed and exhausted to pay much attention to amusements, and every nice kind of food is scarce. I recall, on a rare trip to the seaside (the beach was out of bounds, full of barbed wire and concrete gun emplacements), gazing at a longempty slot machine which had held chocolate bars and now seemed like a rusting icon from another world.
"Nevertheless, we managed to have a good time. We drew a lot, read and wrote stories, and got up magazines. (Mine was called, rather unoriginally, 'Girl's Own.) We acted plays, dressed in homemade costumes, to any audience we could press into service, cats included. Later, we became hopelessly stageand movie-struck. I think that by accident I had an ideal childhood for an illustrator. In a pre-televisual age, our Sunday afternoon outings, if we were lucky, were to Liverpool Art Gallery, which was cram-full of Victorian an narrative paintings with titles like 'The Hopeless Dawn,' 'Too Late!,' and 'When Did You Last See Your Father?' Tremendous stuff, and it fueled my lifelong conviction that stories and pictures belong together. I think most children probably feel the same.
"With me, drawing and painting stuck. I was never much good at anything else, so I went on doing them. Writing was a secret thing, kept well under wraps. When I emerged from art school, I wrote to a distinguished typographer saying I wanted to illustrate children's books. He wrote back saying that this was impossible 'except as an adjunct to teaching or matrimony.' All the same, I was determined to do it.
"When I think of an idea for a story, it always starts with a very strong image in my head, usually of a child doing something. With picture books, the words are unthinkable without the images-the two develop together, like a film. Alfie first made his appearance running up the street ahead of his mum, who came trundling behind with the shopping and his baby sister, Annie Rose, in the buggy. I knew from the first moment I reached for a pencil to get down a rough drawing of him that he was positively pink in the face with determination to get into the action. A lot has happened to him-and to mesince. He is a very ordinary little boy, a kind of fouryear-old Everyman just beginning to come to grips with the complexities of life. Now, rather to my amazement, well over two million Alfie books have been sold worldwide. But I still relate back to that rapid sketch done in a state of high excitement, which is where it all began."--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.