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Stella & Rose's Books

Specialists in Rare & collectable books

Our Favourite Illustrators

This month we are doing something slightly different: instead of one featured book, we are each writing a short piece about our favourite illustrators...


My favourite illustrator is Mabel Lucie Attwell (1879-1964).  I just love her chubby children and pixies.  She is probably most famous for the Boo-Boo series of books (the Boo-Boos being cute little Pixies) but she also illustrated classic stories such as Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland.  As a teenager I collected her postcards and still have an album full somewhere.... maybe they will be worth a fortune one day!  


There are so many of them! I have decided to feature Anthony Browne, a modern illustrator of children's books. He has 50 titles to his name and has won the Kate Greenaway medal for his book Gorilla in 1983 and also Zoo in 1992. Most of his works are picture books (containing minimal text) with bold and colourful illustrations. However, one of my favourite works of his is Alice's Adventures in Wonderland... just because!

(Published 11th Dec 2018) Read full article

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr

I have always enjoyed reading historical novels and have learnt a lot of history through them and think this was probably the first such book that I read. It is set in the 1930's and features a family affected by the rise of the Nazis and what happens when they have to leave their homeland.

Written by Judith Kerr, it is described as a semi-autobiographical novel about a young Jewish girl and her family who flee from the Nazis, leaving Germany in 1933. Judith Kerr wrote the story in response to a remark from her young son after seeing the film, The Sound of Music. He said that now we know what life was like when Mummy was a young girl. Judith wanted him to know what is was really like having to flee from home and friends to become a refugee. Alfred Kerr, Judith's father, was a noted journalist, drama critic and screenwriter who openly criticised the Nazis. The family were Jewish.

(Published 10th Dec 2018) Read full article

The Wind in the Willows

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Who of us is not familiar with the adventures of Ratty and Mole and their timeless adventures which have enchanted children and parents alike for more than a century?

The story starts when Mole decides to visit the river bank one sunny morning instead of doing his spring cleaning (who can blame him?). Here he bumps into Ratty and thus starts their marvellous adventures... along the way, we also meet Badger and Toad - the four of them friends and neighbours in the English countryside.

(Published 24th Oct 2018) Read full article


Published by the Daily Express the year after World War 2 ended, paper was still in short supply so War Economy Standard was still in use and the annual was produced with soft covers.

If you are a Rupert fan you may be aware that most of the Rupert annuals from the very first one (1936) to the 1970 edition have been reproduced in facsimile editions. However, a few of them haven't due to politcally incorrect content and this is one of them. In fact, it is the first of those not to be reproduced. It has now become very scarce as Rupert collectors want to collect the full set and without a facsimile of this edition they have to buy the 'real thing'.

(Published 4th Oct 2018) Read full article

In Grandpa's House

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Many people are familiar with Maurice Sendak as a children's author and illustrator. This book is written by his father Philip Sendak with illustrations by Maurice. Nearly every story by Maurice Sendak seems to be influenced by his own childhood and the sadness and fragility he felt as a child. He often writes about a child in danger and there is often a “dark” quality to the stories. The Sendak home was not a happy one. Philip was traumatised by events in his life and by discovering that his extended family left behind in Poland had all died in the Holocaust. Sarah suffered from depression. Their misery and “craziness” filtered down to Sendak and he believed that this led him to become an artist and influenced the type of artist he was.

(Published 28th Aug 2018) Read full article

Sixpenny Wonderfuls

This book is full of vibrant illustrations and tells the story of the first paperbacks, their authors and illustrators.

We are told that 'early novels were mainly printed in hardback and although beautifully printed they were an expensive luxury at 3/6d.'

At the same time as publishers were looking to see how they could improve sales, we see the advent of Free Schools and libraries and a more literate working class, who like everybody else liked to read as a form of escapism.

Books were serialised in newspapers and magazines by authors such as Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins and they proved extremely popular.

(Published 2nd Aug 2018) Read full article

A Tour of the Dove and the Manifold Valleys by J.P. Sheldon

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This signed limited edition copy, illustrated by Edward Roper F.R.G.S. and published in 1894, called to me on two levels as I wandered the aisles of our Special Book Room. The first way it caught my eye was simply that my daughter works in The Peak District and as soon as I opened it I was captivated by the language used.

In the preface the author writes:

(Published 28th Jun 2018) Read full article

The Golden Bird by Edith Brill. Illustrated by Jan Pienkowski

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My turn to write this article for our newsletter was fast approaching and the usual mild panic was setting in as I tried to decide which book to choose. Then we acquired a collection of folk and fairy tales and this book was amongst them.

Written by Edith Brill it grew out of stories her Polish father used to tell her. It is beautifully illustrated by Jan Pienkowski (originally from Poland) using silhouettes and some colour.

(Published 13th Jun 2018) Read full article

British Wild Flowers by Jane Loudon

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First published by William Smith in1846, this title contains 60 hand-coloured lithographed plates. In the introduction to this work, the author/illustrator herself tells us about the book, she states:

'The present work has been undertaken in consequence of its being suggested to me that a selection of British Wild Flowers, in one volume, on the same plan as my Ladies' Flower Garden, would be useful to those who neither have time nor opportunity to consult the larger works on the subject.'

(Published 10th May 2018) Read full article

The Enid Blyton Handkerchief Book

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Many of us are familiar with Enid Blyton's childrens novels and their characters, for example: Famous Five, Malory Towers, Noddy, Secret Seven.

Perusing our rare books shelves, I came across an obscure spiral-bound title: The Enid Blyton Handkerchief Book. This piqued my curiousity as it is a title I have never come across elsewhere during my many years of working as a bookseller.

Do you remember the small cotton handkerchiefs we had as a child pre-1980s? This is a book full of such handkerchiefs! Oh and before you say 'bleurgh', they are clean! The handkerchiefs are stuck to each page with an overlaying clear film sheet on which text is printed. The text provides a description or short story about each character.

(Published 16th Apr 2018) Read full article

The Wizard's Annual edited by Laurence W. Spitari

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If, like me, you are fascinated by the wizardry of magicians, conjurors and illusionists then this little book will be of interest to you. It is actually a collection, bound together, comprising three copies of The Wizard’s Annual dating from 1913 through to 1916 and two additional small volumes – Moments Of Mystery and Miscellaneous Magic written by Percy Naldrett.

While the latter consist of the explanation of numerous magic tricks, the annuals are also packed with articles, snippets of information, tips for ventriloquists and anecdotes from the experiences of seasoned magicians, the editor having aimed to produce “a readable book, not a dry one”. These do make for fascinating reading and give an insight into the world of magic as it was over 100 years ago.

(Published 7th Mar 2018) Read full article

One Damned Island After Another by Clive Howard and John Whitley

Many years ago, back in my early teens, I recollect that I would scour the shelves of my local library to find any work of fiction that would have the word 'Island' in its title. I doubt that I managed to find them all, even though I was not including children's literature which is rich indeed in 'island' books. The appeal of these isolated scraps of land is inescapable. Thousands of us make islands our holiday destination of choice and, come the day we earn our first billion, it seems likely that an island of our own will feature high on our shopping list. I guess an island represents an escape from the real world; maybe a place where time really can stand still.

(Published 7th Feb 2018) Read full article

Little Folks

I wonder how many children received an Annual this Christmas? I suspect that many of us looked forward to receiving an annual in our Christmas stockings judging by the conversations I have with our customers. Given the large range of annuals we have in stock there has always been plenty of choice. From Beano, DandyRupert, Bunty and Blue Peter to perhaps more obscure titles such as Aunt Judy's Christmas Volume, Bubbles Annual, The Child's Companion and Little Folks.

(Published 3rd Jan 2018) Read full article


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By Tutatis! - it's The Adventures of Asterix!

My family love this series of books, and we now have three generations of readers of Asterix le Gaulois.

Asterix first appeared in the magazine 'Pilote' in 1959, and was written by Rene Goscinny and Albert Uderzo.

It has come a long way since then, with 37 books now published in over 100 languages (including Welsh and Latin!) – over 325 million copies have been sold worldwide.

After Asterix's appearance in 'Pilote', the first book 'Asterix the Gaul' was also published in 1959.

(Published 6th Dec 2017) Read full article

Sowerby's Illustrated Index of British Shells

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First published in 1859.

The author, George Brettingham Sowerby,  was a British naturalist, illustrator and conchologist. Born in August 1788, he was the son of James Sowerby, also a British naturalist, illustrator and mineralogist. When James died, his brother & son, James De Carle Sowerby and George B. Sowerby I respectively, continued their father's work on fossil shells, publishing the latter parts of the Mineral Conchology of Great Britain.

Sowerby's Illustrated Index of British Shells came about from the use of Forbes & Hanley's 'Catalogue of the Shells of Great Britain and Ireland'. On the one hand, this tome was a very useful list of names without figures or references which helps the reader to identify the species. On the otherhand, it was a very large and splendid work which meant it was priced out of the range of the everyday Naturalist.

(Published 2nd Nov 2017) Read full article

Rhymes Of Ye Olde Sign Boards By F.G. Lewin

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Without doubt, due to its unusual format, this is a book that immediately catches the eye, being 16 inches tall but only seven inches wide! It is written and illustrated by the artist Frederick George Lewin, the son of a sea captain. Lewin was born in Bristol in 1860 and lived and worked in the Bristol suburb of Redland for most of his life. He is one of the best known pen and ink artists Bristol has produced.

Lewin started his career as a journalist for the Western Daily Press but soon decided to focus on becoming a freelance artist. He contributed to many local magazines and newspapers and his work made regular appearances in Punch magazine. As his career developed he made a significant contribution to the wartime humorous postcard genre, producing around 750 postcard designs.

(Published 2nd Oct 2017) Read full article

Cardiff Yesterday by Stewart Williams

If you wander along the shelves of our Wales section at Stella Books in Tintern, one series of books will always stand out: the collection of Cardiff Yesterday volumes published by Stewart Williams.

The series comprises some 36 volumes, and includes over 7500 images. The initial volume was published in 1980 and the series went from strength to strength until the last volume was published in 2000. If you are not already familiar with this marvellous collection of volumes, one might best describe it as an indispensable pictorial treasury of life in the capital city of Wales during the 19th and 20th centuries.

(Published 12th Sep 2017) Read full article

 Ballet for Drina by Jean Estoril

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Some books can take you straight back to the time you first read them and this is one of those for me. I first encountered the Drina books as an adult when I read several of the series to my three daughters. I can picture us now snuggled together on the bed as I read a chapter (or two) each evening. I'm not sure who enjoyed the books more – them or me! Although I never wanted to become a ballet dancer I have always enjoyed reading ballet stories, so when we acquired a collection of Drina books I just had to reread them!

(Published 31st Jul 2017) Read full article

The Demon Cat

I absolutely love this book! I came across it by accident some time ago and I am surprised it is still on our shelves at the time of writing. Or maybe not...

It is nothing special to look at from the outside.... A Naval Melo-drama. I must admit, I had to look up melodrama in the Oxford Dictionary which states:

A sensational dramatic piece with exaggerated characters and exciting events intended to appeal to the emotions. Definitely the case!

A play interspersed with songs and orchestral music accompanying the action... It would be very interesting to see this as a play... poor cat.

It is not a long read, one can read it through quickly although it rather spoils the fun if one does not take time to scrutinise the accompanying amusing illustrations which are mostly b/w with a few in colour.

(Published 14th Jul 2017) Read full article

The Vintage Alvis by Peter Hull & Norman Johnson

The Vintage Alvis, first published by Macdonald & Co (Publishers) Ltd in 1967, is a mouth-wateringly detailed account of the history of the famous Alvis Car Company during the 1920s and up to 1932.

Although the name Alvis may not be as well known today as Bugatti, Mercedes or Ferrari, the company produced one of the most popular sports cars of all time - the '12/50'. Alvis also developed a number of original concepts and technically advanced supercharged Grand Prix cars, and incorporated all-independent suspension to their sports cars as early as 1928.

Above: The 1926 12/50 T E sports tourer. The father of L.T.C. Rolt bought this car at the 1925 Olympia Show.

(Published 13th Jun 2017) Read full article