Trained at Wimbledon College of Art and the Slade, Raymond Briggs has changed the face of children’s picture books with his innovations of both form and subject. In this insightful commentary, children’s book editor Nicolette Jones illuminates how Briggs’s eclectic use of style helped him approach profound and resonant themes.
Briggs embraced ideas that defied expectations of picture books. He not only reveled in the depiction of mud and slime, but also imbued his books with themes of class, conflict, and complex emotions. Briggs’s works appealed to a broad array of audiences like that of few others. His classic The Snowman, which has no text, pioneered the possibility of narrative in comic strip form, leaving an important legacy for children’s and adult authors alike. With his empathy for the humble and modest and his ability to provoke both joy and grief, this book shows how Briggs’s illustrations made the ordinary extraordinary.
Nicolette Jones is the children’s book editor of the Sunday Times, and she has been a reviewer, feature writer, diarist, and book-prize judge. In 2012, she was shortlisted for the Eleanor Farjeon award for her “outstanding contribution to the world of children’s books.