Cyril Walter Hodges was a children’s book illustrator who won the Kate Greenaway Medal in 1964. He went to Goldsmiths’ College of Art and spent most of his career as a freelance illustrator. He illustrated the first edition of The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Gouge in the 1940s.
I know I’m biased, because this edition is the one I read, which was pretty old and battered by the time I got it, but I still think this is the best. The illustrations inside mesh perfectly with the text. The sense of place in particular seems very true. I read and reread the book and knew exactly the lay of the land. The endpapers
with their maps and floor plans are perfect for a small child to pore over and give further scope for endless adventurous imaginings. Why don’t we have more of this in our books? I want more pictures.
Houses and landscapes have always intrigued me. This landscape,
was my attempt at a country village. What I really wanted to be able to draw myself into the place and live in it, I drew a lot of castles too.
The sense of place is hugely important in books. How does a writer create it? Well I tend to use a place I know and alter it a bit. Then I can walk around it in my mind without too much effort. A place doesn’t need so very much description, feelings work well, smells and sounds and textures. Say something like ‘an uneven stone-flagged floor’ for example and I’m there, I can walk on it.
So never mind if children don’t want to give up on books with pictures. Why should they? I have never got over the disappointment of supposedly ‘moving on’ to books without pictures. Let them read comics and graphic novels and anything they want.