Bookbug Spotlight: Very First Nursery Rhymes
Bookbug Spotlight gives you the chance to learn more about the work of authors, illustrators, and publishers connected to the Bookbug programme. This month we have a very special blog from author and illustrator Rosalinde Bonnet, who tells us how she brought Usborne's Very First Nursery Rhymes to life. Usborne's Very First Nursery Rhymes is one of the three books in our latest Bookbug Baby Bag.
What’s your top tip for sharing Very First Nursery Rhymes with little ones?
Whether you read it or sing along, emphasise the rhythms and musicality (change the sound of your voice, clap along…). Also, allow time for children to look closely at the illustrations.
What do you hope children and parents/carers will take away from Very First Nursery Rhymes?
First, I hope Very First Nursery Rhymes brings joy and fun to all. And it would be great if it expands children’s imagination and encourages the love of books, music and cultural heritage.
Can you recommend any other books by different authors or illustrators that families may like to share together if they enjoyed Very First Nursery Rhymes?
- Ally Bally Bee: A lift-the-flap book illustrated by Kathryn Selbert
- Pussy cat, pussy cat, where have you been? by Russell Punter and Dan Taylor
- Peck, Peck, Peck by Lucy Cousins
- My Very First Mother Goose by Iona Opie and Rosemary Wells
- Silver Bells and Cockle Shells illustrated by Henriette Willebeek le Mair
Which books did you love as a child?
I was particularly fascinated by classic fairytales (Perrault, Andersen, Grimm and Afanasyev) as well as the books by Beatrix Potter, Tomi Ungerer, Rosemary Wells, and John Strickland Goodall. My favourite books were Tom Kitten, Two Bad Mice (image, left), Zeralda’s Ogre, Noisy Nora, Shrewbettina’s Birthday, Creepy Castle and The Midnight Adventures of Kelly, Dot and Esmeralda.
These authors and my parents, who told me a lot of stories each day, deeply inspired my love of books and made me want to become an author-illustrator at a very young age.
Are there any lessons that your parents taught you that will always stick in your head?
Education is the key to everything. That implies being polite, being kind and respectul to every living creature but also to being curious about everything and to never stop learning.
What is your favourite memory from childhood?
My father built a beautiful puppet theater and my uncle, who is an interior designer, created wonderful sets. My siblings and I spent a lot of time inventing plays for our puppets. We had so much fun! This wonderful puppet theatre is now in my studio.
Tell us about the view from the office/studio where you work?
My studio is beneath the roof so I only see the sky from my drawing table. However I have a view on a multitude of fantasy worlds since my walls are covered with illustrations by some of my favourite illustrators: Arthur Rackam, Ivan Bilibin, Gustave Doré, Kay Nielsen, Edmond Dulac… During my breaks, I often stand on a stool to look out the window. Then I see delightful 1900’s houses surrounded by trees. I love to watch the birds. Apparently my roof is highly valued by the crows. My neighbours will end up thinking I am a witch!
If you could live in any book you’ve written or illustrated which would it be and why?
I would love to live in the ideal world of Daddy Honk Honk: vast, peaceful landscapes without any pollution where there lives a warm, joyful and helpful community who has nothing to fear from humans. Also, I am a big fan of the cosy eco-house of the fox, his rocking chair and his bunny slippers!
Is there a picture book you wish you’d written or illustrated?
Actually, I rather wish my work contains the qualities which I admire in my favourite picture books, especially the ones by Tomi Ungerer: a subtle combination of poetry and mischief, and the ability to tell a rich story with a few, perfectly chosen words and lines. As Picasso said: “Art is the elimination of the unnecessary."
What’s your favourite thing about your local library?
I love going to my local library because it is housed in a gorgeous building near the Château de Versailles (the former ministry of royal marine, built in 1672). There is a stupendous amount of treasured old books and documents. But what I prefer is that the wonderful staff always have brilliant ideas for activities to nourish and share the love of books.
Watch a video of a family sharing Usborne's Very First Nursery Rhymes on the Bookbug webpages. And check out our list of Books Based on Songs and Rhymes for more ideas of great books to share with little ones!