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Picture Books Author of the Month

John Burningham
John Burdningham
27 April 1936 -- ???

    John Mackintosh Burningham  was born on April 27, 1936 in Farnham, Surrey, England to Charles and Jessie (Mackintosh) Burningham.

    Burningham received his primary education at the Summerhill School in Leiston, Suffolk, England.  After he graduated, Burningham opted to join the Friend's Ambulance Unit as an alternative to military service in 1953.  In 1954, Burningham started a two-year period where he worked at framing, slum-clearance, forestry, and school building.  To accomplish this, he traveled through Italy, Yugoslavia, and Israel.

    In 1956, Burningham started his studies at the Central School of Art, where he received a diploma in 1959.  He wasted no time putting his artistic abilities to good use.  He designed posters for London Transport and the British Transport Commission.  He also spent a year on an animated puppet film in the Middle East.

    He finally found his ultimate calling by turning to writing and illustrating children's books as a means of getting his drawings published.  He started working in the field in 1963.  His first attempt at writing and illustrating a children's book was with Borka: The Adventures of a Goose With No Feathers.  It was very well reviewed.  The book won the Kate Greenaway Medal, which would not be the last time that he won this award for one of his works.

    In 1964, Burningham married Helen Gillian Oxenbury.  At the time she was a designer, but she has also become a well-known author and illustrator of children's books as well.  They have one son and two daughters.

    In addition to his books, Burningham has also created a number of wall friezes that measure eight feet long and twelve inches wide.  He started doing this in 1966.  He is a free-lance designer of murals, exhibitions, three-dimensional models, magazine illustrations, and advertisements.  His works have also been exhibited by the American Institute of Graphic Arts.

    One of the reasons that Burningham is so popular and prolific is that he uses a wide assortment of materials and techniques in his illustrations, including crayons, charcoal, and india ink.

Information for this biography was taken from:
    1) Tracy Chevalier (ed.). Twentieth Century Children Writers; St. James Press: New York, 1989.
    2) Anne Commire (ed.).  Something About the Author, #16; Gale Research Company: Detroit, Mich., 1979.

Titles Written by Burningham
E-Burningham Aldo (1992) -- A small girl reflects on the comfort she gets from her imaginary friend Aldo.

E-Burningham The Baby (1975) -- A little boy describes his feelings about a new baby at his house.

E-Burningham The Blanket (1976) -- Unable to find the blanket he always takes to bed with him, a child enlists the aid of his family to help him look for it.

E-Burningham Cloudland (1996) -- While high in the mountains with his parents, Albert falls off a cliff and ends up in Cloudland, where he enjoys playing with the cloud children, but misses his parents.

E-BUR Come Away From the Water, Shirley (1977) -- Shirley‚s adventures at the beach are interspersed with familiar parental warnings.

E-Burningham Courtney (1994) -- The children bring home an old mongrel named Courtney, who cooks, serves meals, juggles, and even saves the baby from a fire, only to disappear mysteriously.

E-BUR The Cupboard (1976) -- A child loves to play in the kitchen cupboards, though mummy is none too pleased.

E-Burningham The Dog (1976) -- A small boy enjoys looking after a dog that is staying at his home for a while.

E-BUR First Steps: Letters, Numbers, Colors, Opposites (1994) -- An illustrated introduction to the letters of the alphabet, the numbers one to ten, basic colors, and opposites.

E-Burningham The Friend (1994) -- Easy-to-read text and drawings describe a young boy‚s relationship with his best friend Arthur.

E-Burningham Harvey Slumfenburger's Christmas Present (1993) -- On discovering late Christmas Eve that he has forgotten to deliver one present, Santa Claus wearily makes his way in a variety of conveyances to the top of the Roly Poly Mountains to deliver it.

E-BUR Hey! Get Off Our Train (1989) -- At bed time, a young boy takes a trip on his toy train and rescues several endangered animals.

E-Burningham John Burningham‚s ABC (1985) -- Introduces the alphabet from A to Z with colorful pictures of objects and animals that start with each letter.

E-BUR John Burningham‚s Opposites (1985) -- Introduces the concept of opposites through labeled pictures of a boy interacting with a thin pig and a fat pig, a hot dragon and a cold snowman, and other creatures and situations.

E-BUR John Patrick Norman McHennessey: The Boy Who Was Always Late (1988) -- A teacher regrets his decision to disbelieve a student‚s outlandish excuses for being tardy.

E-Burningham Mr. Gumpy's Motor Car (1976) -- Mr. Gumpy's human and animal friends squish into his old car and go for a drive -- until it starts to rain.

E-Burningham Mr. Gumpy's Outing (1970) -- Mr. Gumpy accepts more and more riders on his boat until the inevitable occurs.

E-Burningham Time to Get Out of the Bath, Shirley (1978) -- During her bath, Shirley is off on a series of imaginative adventures that her mother, who is tidying up the bathroom, has no idea.

E-BUR Where's Julius? (1986) -- Julius uses his bold imagination while he plays to enjoy fabulous escapades, shooting South American rapids and riding camels up pyramids.

E-Burningham Would You Rather (1978) -- Presents choices for the reader such as living as a gerbil in a cage or with a rabbit in a hutch and being chased by a crab, by a bull, by a lion, or by some wolves.

Titles Illustrated by John Burningham
J-P-FLE  Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: The Magical Car (1964) by Ian Fleming -- Two children persuade their father, an inventor, to purchase and restore an  old car, which turns out to have magical powers.

J-GRA  The Wind in the Willows (1983) by Kenneth Graham -- The escapades of four animal friends who live along a river in the English countryside -- Toad, Mole, Rat, and Badger. 

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