Jess Racklyeft, author–illustrator of There’s Only One Mum Like You, on her five all-time favourite picture books
You Belong Here written by M.H Clarke and illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault
Honestly, any book Isabelle illustrates transports me to a magical, dreamy place, but this one particularly so. The beautiful rhythm of the text as I read it to my kids, matched with the limited palette illustrations brings tears to my eyes, while being so gently reaffirming to kids about their place in the world.
All the Ways to Be Smart written by Davina Bell and illustrated by Allison Colpoys
Any book these two makes is a masterpiece, but, like the rest of Australia, I am completely smitten with this book in particular. My husband is a high school teacher and he also adores it – celebrating ALL the ways kids are so dang smart. (Oh, and Davina is the best editor one could hope for!)
Florette by Anna Walker
I gasped when I saw the cover of this beauty. Every book Anna makes seems to out-do the one before – she continues to push herself, create the most beautiful, thoughtful work (Mr Huff also is another all-time favourite), and she has been the kindest art mentor to me over many years. What a lady!
Professional Crocodile written by Giovanna Zoboli and illustrated by Mariachiara Di Giorgio
I asked Liam, a staff member at Carlton’s Little Bookroom, for a top illustration book recommendation when I was stuck in a creative rut and he pulled this wordless picture book off the shelf. Firstly, if you remove the dust jacket, magic things appear. Secondly, it’s like a movie – with colours, angles and incredible characterisation. The story is so simple but perfect. It’s a total winner.
Anything by Quentin Blake.
I will choose ABC only because it is sitting right in front of me right now. I grew up addicted to Roald Dahl books, and thus, Quentin books. As a kid I thought his illustrations were so simple because they don’t look like detailed fine art. And I adored them! However, as an adult I realised how complex his work is. To make those simple lines do so much – character, scene, mood – is just so difficult and he does it brilliantly.
Jess Racklyeft is an artist and author of picture books, as well as creator of paintings, prints, pins and other papery projects. She worked in publishing sales for many years but now works full time as an illustrator. Recent awards include CBCA Notable Picture Book of the Year two years running. She lives in Melbourne with her young family, old dog and rather energetic kitten.