John Burningham and Helen Oxenbury, two iconic children’s authors and illustrators have won the first ever double BookTrust Lifetime Achievement Award.
The BookTrust Lifetime Achievement Award celebrates the body of work of an author or illustrator who has made an outstanding contribution to children's literature.
John Burningham is the author and illustrator of such books as The Way to the Zoo and Harvey Slumfenburger's Christmas Present. Helen Oxenbury, meanwhile, is best known for illustrating such classics as We’re Going on a Bear Hunt and Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes. The couple, who married in 1964, have won several literary awards individually but have only collaborated on one book together, There’s Going to be a Baby, published by Walker in 2010.
John said of winning the award: “I’m incredibly grateful to be given an award for a lifetime of work. I’m so very flattered when I hear people now say they love my books and that something I did 50 years ago still works and is enjoyed by their family.”
Helen commented “It’s particularly lovely as we have been awarded this honour jointly - and to get an award from BookTrust who know everything there is to know about children’s books is just wonderful.”
Deirdre McDermott, Picture Book Publisher, Walker said: “Walker Books are deeply privileged to have worked with Helen Oxenbury throughout her exceptional picture book career. Helen's instinctive ability to know what delights little children and the grown-ups that read to them has enabled her to create more than eighty picture books since she was first published by Heinemann in 1967. Her own groundbreaking baby board books and her toddlers’ first experiences series for Walker Books have influenced and shaped the imaginations of so many, many children over the years. It is remarkable to realise that all of Helen’s unparalleled achievements have taken place in the same household where another of the twentieth century’s most iconic picture book makers, her husband John Burningham, has also been writing and painting his own children’s books. In 2010, Walker Books worked with both Helen Oxenbury and John Burningham on their unique collaboration, There’s Going to Be a Baby, uniting two peerless masters of picture books together onto the page for the very first time. We congratulate Helen Oxenbury and John Burningham on their astonishing multitude of vivid and amusing picture books, and we look forward to their continued creative vision for many picture books to come.”