Helen Oxenbury is an illustrator of children’s books whose work has featured in many very popular titles for younger readers including the award-winning We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, by Michael Rosen.
Helen has won the Kate Greenaway Medal twice and was awarded a lifetime achievement award by the Book Trust in 2018. She attended the Ipswich School of Art and later the Central School of Art in London where she met fellow illustrator and her future husband, John Burningham.
After the birth of her children she began illustrating children’s books, working at the kitchen table long after they’d gone to bed. Her work for Ivor Cutler’s Meal One, published in 1971, was praised by Spare Rib magazine for its portrayal of a single mother and her relationship with her young son.
Helen came up with the idea of her baby board books in the late 1970s after the birth of her third child who suffered with eczema. Discovering that her daughter could be distracted from scratching by looking at baby catalogues, Helen created a series of board books placing babies and toddlers at their heart. Such a concept was unheard of at the time.
From the late 1980s, Helen ensured that the babies and children featured in her books came from different ethnic backgrounds and her work in So Much by Trish Cooke has become a children’s classic. In We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, published in 1989, Helen’s pictures celebrated the joy of adventure and the bond between siblings.
DISC ONE: America by Marilyn Cooper, Chita Rivera and Shark Girls
DISC TWO: Mir Ist So Wunderbar by Ludwig van Beethoven, conducted by Mark Elder, performed by London Philharmonic Orchestra. Tenor: Andrew Kennedy, Soprano: Lisa Milne, Soprano: Anja Kampe, Bass: Brindley Sherratt
DISC THREE: Tubby The Tuba by Danny Kaye
DISC FOUR: Lullaby of Birdland by Erroll Garner
DISC FIVE: Episode 1of Life In A Scotch Sitting Room Vol. II by Ivor Cutler
DISC SIX: Schubert ’s Impromptu No. 3 in G flat D899 by Alfred Brendel, (piano)
conducted by Sir Charles Mackerras
DISC SEVEN: Singin’ in the Rain by Gene Kelly
DISC EIGHT: Les Pecheurs de Perles, Act 1: Romance: Mi par d'udir ancora (Je crois entendre encore) by Beniamino Gigli, conducted by Eugene Goossens
BOOK CHOICE: The Empire Trilogy by JG Farrell
LUXURY ITEM: A bed with an unlimited supply of white linen sheets
CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Les Pecheurs de Perles, Act 1: Romance: Mi par d'udir ancora (Je crois entendre encore) by Beniamino Gigli, conducted by Eugene Goossens
Presenter: Lauren Laverne
Producer: Paula McGinley