Some children’s books
by other authors

recommended by Kellie Strøm


Sea Stories

On earlier pages I’ve written about The Sailor Dog and The Cornish Cats who Went to Sea, but that’s not enough! We want more tales of the sea, more ships and sailors, pirates and whales!

Pirates, Ships, and Sailors

Pirates, Ships, and SailorsOne more from Golden Books, but in a larger format this time: Pirates, Ships, and Sailors is a collection of stories and poems by Kathryn and Byron Jackson, with beautiful art by Gustaf Tenggren.

This has got a wonderful range of stuff in it, from the adventure of the Big Little Cook’s Boy’ and the pirates, to the determined sailor Stowaway Judy, and the summer holiday stories about ships in bottles and treasure islands hidden in plain sight, and poems funny, romantic and atmospheric.

Captain Slaughterboard

Captain Slaughterboard Drops AnchorMervyn Peake’s Captain Slaughterboard Drops Anchor (1939) has been reissued in a fine edition by Walker Books.

This picture book grew out of sketches done by Mervyn Peake to entertain his children and it’s bursting with the pleasure of drawing.

When he introduces us to the crew of The Black Tiger he enjoys making each pirate more grotesque and bizarre than the last, and when he lists the fauna of the Yellow Creature’s island the game is again to outdo himself with each successive specimen.

Finally Captain Slaughterboard catches a series of baroque and rococo fish, culminating in an arabesque prize that says everything that needs to be said about the joy of lines on paper.

Here’s a review from the Sydney Morning Herald and a short piece from That last page also gives a tantalising glimpse of Letters from a Lost Uncle (1948), a book I borrowed as a boy from Kilkenny Public Library. I wonder do they still have their copy? And I wonder was Mervyn Peake influenced by W. Heath Robinson’s The Adventures of Uncle Lubin?

Captain Slaughterboard Drops Anchor from
Captain Slaughterboard Drops Anchor from

Dougal’s Deep Sea Diary

Dougal's Deep Sea DiaryHere as in his other books, Simon Bartram combines clever humour with warm fun paintings. His acrylic technique is flawlessly precise, but never dry or overbearing, and his colourful clunky submarine design is fantastic. Can I have a toy one for the bath?

There’s more of his paintings to see on his agent’s site, and a list of his books on the Templar Publishing site.

Little Tim and the Brave Sea Captain

Little Tim and the Brave Sea CaptainEdward Ardizzone’s books might seem too obvious a choice, but only last month I was talking to a Dutch friend who’d never heard of them, so for those who don’t yet know Little Tim, read on.

All the Little Tim books are great. They’re straight adventure stories, which makes them very unusual compared to other English picture books in print. I don’t know if anyone would get away with proposing the same type of story for young children today. Little Tim is always running away to sea and nearly getting himself killed, and when he gets home he’s always a hero, and his parents are so happy to see him that they quite forget to scold him!

Ardizzone illustrated tons of books, mostly for children, though I also recently saw an adult book on someone’s shelf with a very nice cover by him, including his distinctive handlettering. While some of the Little Tim books are nearly always in print, there are many more picture books by him that have been forgotten, buried treasure now only available secondhand, so dig, dig, dig!

Heree’s a good site about Edward Ardizzone, and there’s more of his art on the Chris Beetles Gallery site.

The Lost Sea

One final book, for older readers this time: Jan de Hartog’s The Lost Sea.

The Lost SeaThe Lost Sea

This exciting short novel about a ‘sea mouse’, a cabin boy on a Dutch fishing boat on the Zuider Zee in the time just before it was reclaimed as land, is based on the author’s own experience of running away to sea.

On the left is the jacket for the 1973 Hamish Hamilton edition, which has some nice drawings by John Lawrence. The image on the right is from the Dutch audiobook edition.

And now it’s time to practice your sea shanties with Burl Ives.


Next: more picture books.

Sadie The Air Mail Pilot
Sadie The Air Mail Pilot

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Quick links to other sites:

An interview with Sadie’s publisher, David Fickling.

Sadie’s best friends, children’s authors Ted Dewan, Helen Cooper, and Aidan Potts.
Here’s an interview with Aidan.

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UK Distributors: TBS

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Buying the UK edition online:

Amazon UK
You can also buy the UK edition from Amazon USA or Amazon Canada.
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Buying the US edition online:
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Unless otherwise stated, all contents copyright © Balsko Film Ltd.

Kellie Strøm art copyright © Kellie Strøm.

Links images copyright their respective copyright holders.

Website published by Balsko Film Ltd,
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Written October 2003, and September 2007