PAULINE BAYNES : Narnia and more

Iconic illustration of Mr. Tumnus and Lucy in Narnia, by Pauline Baynes
          A former student donated a bag of books that were mostly Tolkien and Terry Pratchett. As I was processing The Tolkien Reader, I noticed some very nice illustrations throughout it, and thought I recognized Pauline Baynes' work. Sure enough, it was.
          Baynes is best known as the original illustrator of the Narnia books by C.S. Lewis. If you've only seen the cheap paperbacks with only black & white illustrations, you should check out some of the nicer editions and see her full-color work as well. It's beautiful, detailed, and classic.

Beautiful Baynes illustration for a biscuit ad, wish I'd seen this closer to Christmas!

          The idea of her illustrating anything other than Narnia was new to me, so I decided to do just a little research and find out more about this charming artist from the good old days of children's illustrated literature.
           Pauline Baynes was born in Brighton in 1922, and died at the age of 86 in 2008, leaving some unfinished work on illustrations for Aesop's Fables. She was a busy creative lady up until the very end, and jolly good for her!

"Bilbo's Last Song" by Pauline Baynes

          Tolkien and Lewis were contemporaries and friends, but it was actually Tolkien who worked with Baynes first. Tolkien was preparing Farmer Giles of Ham for publication, but was unhappy with the first illustrator. Tolkien actually dumped him in favor of Baynes' more authentically Medieval and humorous illustrative style.
          C.S. Lewis saw Baynes' work for Tolkien, and enlisted her for his own Narnia books.

Aslan with Susan and Lucy, by Pauline Baynes

          Baynes was a prolific artist, though, and worked on many different projects throughout her entire life, such as The Arabian Nights, a bunch of fairy tales and fables, and even some of her own original stories.
          In 1968 she won the Kate Greenaway Medal for Uden's A Dictionary of Chivalry. I think maybe nobody (in the U.S.) gives a shit anymore about the Kate Greenaway Medal, which is too bad. It's still awarded every year for "outstanding book in terms of illustration for children and young people." I guess the Caldecott Medal overshadows it. Kate Greenaway and Randolph Caldecott were both classic Victorian-era children's illustrators.
          I have to include one of Kate Greenaway's own illustrations, it's just so lovely and English and gay:

Girls in pinafores by Kate Greenaway

          Back to Pauline Baynes: Later in life she illustrated a bunch of religious picture books. When I first read that, I was like, "Ugh..." but then I saw she had also done illustrations for the Koran, so apparently her religious views were fairly open and scholarly. In fact, I later found this cool quote from The Guardian, UK:

It was somewhat to her chagrin that she developed a reputation over the years as an illustrator of mostly Christian works and, to redress the balance, one of her last creations (her "children" as she called them) was a series of designs for selections from the Qur'an, scheduled for publication in 2009.

          I couldn't find any record of that edition of the Qur'an actually getting published, so I'm not sure what happened with that. But I love that she was "chagrined" about her rep as a Christian illustrator, and felt it needed "redressing."

"St. Francis" by Pauline Baynes

          One of the best sites I found while looking into Baynes' life and work was Brian Sibley's blog, which includes something thrilling for a Lewis Carroll enthusiast like me. Pauline did a small line drawing for the "lost" chapter of Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There. The chapter involves a wasp with a wig reading a newspaper, and Sir John Tenniel said he couldn't illustrate such a thing. The nerve! Sibley was a close personal friend of Baynes near the end of her life, so his blog post about her is really interesting.

The "lost" Wonderland character as illustrated by Pauline Baynes


          Finally one of our students brought up the "Steampunk" genre in our last library book club meeting. She was way excited about it, eyes wide and mind on fire. I thought, NOW is the time to put together a bibliography on Steampunk books for our students!
          A few years ago at a writer's conference I attended a presentation by David Gale, Editorial Director for Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. He told us that "Steampunk" was going to be the next big thing in children's publishing, and blow up all over the place.

Feel free to reproduce this image if you like, we put it on one side of our bookmark, with the reading list on the reverse.

          Here is the list we came up with, using only books currently in our library collection. Some of these have all the elements of Steampunk, some of them may only have a few. If a particular title seems not Steampunky enough for you, just consider it "recommended if you like..."

Airborn by Kenneth Oppel
Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi (graphic novel)
The Clockwork Three by Matthew Kirby
The Death Collector by Justin Richards
Doctor Illuminatus by Martin Booth
The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
Fever Crumb by Philip Reeve
Flora Segunda by Ysabeau S. Wilce
 The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
Gotham By Gaslight (“Batman” graphic novel)
His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik
“Hollow Fields” manga series by M. Rosca
Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
Incarceron by Catherine Fisher
“The Infernal Devices” series by Cassandra Clare
“Keys To the Kingdom” series by Garth Nix
Larklight by Philip Reeve
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
The List of 7 by Mark Frost
“Monster Blood Tattoo” series by D.M. Cornish
Nick of Time by Ted Bell
Pastworld by Ian Beck
Perdido Street Station by China Mieville
Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi
Tanglewreck by Jeanette Winterson
The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
Whitechapel Gods by S.M. Peters
Worldshaker by Richard Harland

          If you're not sure what Steampunk is, think Victorian Science Fiction, with fantastical machinery using steam power. Gritty London streets, either in the actual Victorian era, or influenced heavily by it. Top hats, goggles, cogwheels and clockworks... Jules Verne and H. G. Wells are considered the grandfathers of Steampunk. You tend to find mechanically-inclined strong female characters in Steampunk.
          Here are some other core Steampunk titles, which may or may not be appropriate for junior high and/or high school libraries:

The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers
Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
The Difference Engine by William Gibson & Bruce Sterling
Infernal Devices by K.W. Jeter
The Return of the Dapper Men by Jim McCann, Paul Morrissey, & Janet Lee
Steampunk by Ann & Jeff Vandermeer
The Steampunk Trilogy by Paul D. Filippo
The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi

          Incidentally, I remember first hearing about Steampunk way back in about 1993 when I was working at the Santa Ana Public Library in the children's and young adult section. Just sayin'. The genre ain't NEW, but apparently there's a resurgence. Which is cool for those of us who work with teens.