Dear Shirley Hughes,
You’ve changed worlds. Honestly. I think that’s why I sort of stared at you a bit (sorry) when I got the chance to hear you and your family talk in person about your endeavours. I think I stared because of the realisation (and I get this so often) that you’ve made a world of iconic characters come to life through your words and your art. You’ve given us so, so much.
Whether it’s your words, or your pictures, I now can’t picture these characters in any other shape or form. That’s what good – great – illustration does. It defines things. It makes things real.
I still can’t look at an Alfie book without smiling. And when I find your illustrations, tucked away quietly in the most hidden of places, it makes me smile even more. There’s something about your work that is just a part of me now and I think, in a way, part of all of us. There’s something so iconic in the way you catch the curve of a cheek, the sparkling naughtiness in an eye, that we all know it. Even if we don’t know we know it.
So thank you. Thank you for your art. Thank you for your smart, clever and beautiful picture books. Thank you for giving us characters that have and will endure for the longest of days. Thank you for making me look at a picture book and see the world.
Happy birthday. Happiest, happiest of birthdays.