Voake, Charlotte 1957-
Voake, Charlotte 1957-
Children's book author and illustrator. Bluecoat Gallery, Liverpool, England, former gallery worker.
Reading Magic Awards Certificate of Excellence, Parenting magazine, 1988, for First Things First: A Baby's Companion; Best Books citation, School Library Journal, 1990, for The Best of Aesop's Fables; Nestlé Smarties Prize Gold Award, 1997, Reading Magic Awards Certificate of Excellence, Parenting magazine, and Sheffield Customers Book Award Commendation, both 1998, all for Ginger; Smarties Prize, 2002, for Pizza Kittens.
Tom's Cat, Lippincott (Philadelphia, PA), 1986.
First Things First: A Baby's Companion, Walker Books (London, England), 1988.
Mrs. Goose's Baby, Joy Street Books (Boston, MA), 1989.
Mr. Davies and the Baby, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 1996.
Ginger, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 1997.
Charlotte Voake's Alphabet Adventure, Jonathan Cape Children's Books (London, England), 1998.
Here Comes the Train, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 1998.
Pizza Kittens, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2002.
Ginger Finds a Home, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2003.
A Baby's Companion, Walker (London, England), 2004.
A Child's Guide to Wild Flowers, Transworld/Eden Project, 2004.
Hello, Twins, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2006.
Simon Watson, The New Red Bike, and Other Stories for the Very Young, Heinemann (London, England), 1978.
David Lloyd, Top and Toby: A First Book of Letters, Walker (London, England), 1980.
Simon Watson, The Picture Prize and Other Stories for the Very Young, Puffin (Harmondsworth, England), 1981.
Imogen Chichester, Mr Teago and the Magic Slippers, Viking Kestrel (London, England), 1983.
Philippa Pearce, The Way to Sattin Shore, Greenwillow Books (New York, NY), 1983.
Emma Tennant, The Ghost Child, Egmont Children's Books (London, England), 1984.
Emma Tennant, The Witch Child, Egmont Children's Books (London, England), 1984.
David Lloyd, Duck, Walker (London, England), 1984, Lippincott (Philadelphia, PA), 1988.
Over the Moon: A Book of Nursery Rhymes, introduction by David Lloyd, Clarkson N. Potter (New York, NY), 1985.
Jan Mark, Fur, Walker Books (London, England), 1986.
Sarah Hayes, Bad Egg: The True Story of Humpty Dumpty, Joy Street Books (Boston, MA), 1987, published as The True Story of Humpty Dumpty, Walker (London, England), 1998.
David Lloyd (adaptor), The Ridiculous Story of Gammer Gurton's Needle, Clarkson N. Potter (New York, NY), 1987.
Allan Ahlberg, The Mighty Slide: Stories in Verse, Viking Kestrel (Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England), 1988.
Martin Waddell, Amy Said, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1990.
Margaret Clark, adaptor, The Best of Aesop's Fables, Joy Street Books (Boston, MA), 1990.
The Three Little Pigs, and Other Favorite Nursery Stories, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 1992.
Vivian French, Caterpillar, Caterpillar, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 1995.
Eleanor Farjeon, Elsie Piddock Skips in Her Sleep (first published in Martin Pippin in the Daisy Field, 1937), Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 1997.
Joy Richardson, Looking at Pictures: An Introduction to Art for Young People, Harry N. Abrams (New York, NY), 1997.
Geneviève de la Bretsche, Grand Imagier (picture dictionary), Scholastic (New York, NY), 2005.
ILLUSTRATOR; "FIRST DISCOVERY: MUSIC" SERIES
Catharine Weill, Fryderyk Chopin, décoverte des musiciens (includes audio CD), Gallimard (Paris, France), 2000, translated as Fryderyk Chopin, Moonlight (London, England), 2001.
Pierre Babin, Claude Debussy décoverte des musiciens (includes audio CD), Gallimard (Paris, France), 2000, translated as Claude Debussy, Moonlight (London, England), 2002.
Paule du Bouchet, Bach décoverte des musiciens (includes audio CD), Gallimard (Paris, France), 2000, translated as Bach, Moonlight (London, England), 2002.
Christian Wasselin, Hector Berlioz décoverte des musiciens (includes audio CD), Gallimard (Paris, France), 2000, translated as Hector Berloiz, Moonlight (London, England), 2002.
Opting for a degree in art history rather than art, Charlotte Voake has nonetheless followed her dream of becoming a picture-book illustrator. Beginning her career in the late 1970s—her first illustrations were published while Voake was still in college—she has become one of the most popular illustrators in her native Great Britain. In addition to the whimsical, humorous images she creates for stories by writers such as Jan Mark, Allan Ahlberg, and David Lloyd, she is also an author and illustrator of a number of original tales, among them the award-winning Pizza Kittens and Ginger. A testament to Voake's popularity came from the nephew of the late and highly awarded children's book author Eleanor Farjeon, who selected Voake as the perfect art-
ist to create illustrations for Elsie Piddock Skips in Her Sleep, a story by Farjeon that was first published in 1973. Praising Voake's use of "deft, precise lines and delicate tints of color" in this work, Booklist contributor Carolyn Phelan added that the illustrator's "ink drawings with watercolor washes clearly establish the turn-of-the-century English setting" of Farjeon's tale.
One of Voake's early self-illustrated tales, Tom's Cat is a picture book aimed at children ranging from preschoolers to second graders. Its main character, Tom, listens to the strange, unidentified noises his cat is making, and imagines what the cat could be doing to create such odd sounds. When he finally investigates, Tom discovers that each noise actually accompanies a far more mundane activity than he had imagined. Another original story, First Things First: A Baby's Companion, collects a wealth of information—nursery rhymes, the alphabet, numbers, and information about the days of the week, plants, and animals—in a book that can be used by young children in various stages of development. A Publishers Weekly critic called First Things First "perfectly geared to babies and toddlers," and Denise M. Wilms dubbed it "a fresh, appealing choice to share" in her Booklist review. School Library Journal contributor Karen Litton applauded the book's structure, noting that Voake's "fresh and unconventional" book organization parallels the unique associations "made by small children discovering the world." A Horn Book contributor praised Voake's "tranquil and quiet" illustrations and called First Things First "an absolute winner for the very youngest child."
A tale of unconditional maternal love, Mrs. Goose's Baby describes a goose who finds an egg, cares for it, and later raises the hatchling, even though the youngster is a chicken rather than a goose. A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that, although Voake's story has an obvious ending, Mrs. Goose's Baby "is as reassuring as it is dear." In Horn Book, Ann A. Flowers praised the picture book as "a fine expression of mother-child affection." One of Voake's most popular characters is introduced in Ginger Finds a Home and Ginger. Ginger is a tiny grey kitten when readers first meet him in Ginger Finds a Home. A vagabond, he scrounges food from garbage cans and lives in a cluster of weeds. A little girl becomes the kitten's angel when she brings the scruffy feline food and eventually welcomes the cat into her home. Although Ginger is first afraid, he gradually warms up to his new home; as Carolyn Phelan noted in Booklist, Voake's "simple, good-hearted story will touch children as they identify with both Ginger's tentativeness and the little girl's longing."
In Ginger the kitten is now a full-grown cat; in fact, he is top cat in his new home. Ginger's positioned becomes threatened, however, when his owner unexpectedly brings home a kitten and the pampered pus finds that this young creature gets the lion's share of his owner's attention. A Kirkus Reviews critic observed that Ginger's story "parallels" a toddler's reaction to the arrival of a new baby in a household," a fact that give Ginger "a practical dimension." A Publishers Weekly contributor praised Voake's award-winning picture book for similar reasons, noting that Ginger is "a sound choice for children dealing with not-so-idiosyncratic reactions to the arrival of a newborn."
Kittens who behave like children also take center stage in Pizza Kittens, while Here Comes the Train and Hello,Twins focus on sibling relationships. In Here Comes the Train, Chloe and her younger brother William enjoy spending Saturdays with their father, when they bike to a nearby bridge and anticipate the loud rush of the fast-moving trains they watch cross underneath. "Kids will recognize the excitement and also the magic" of Voake's family-centered tale, according to Booklist reviewer Hazel Rochman, while a Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that in Here Comes the Train "the sheer, giddy joy of the moment [is] … communicated … in phrases and art that even the youngest readers will respond to."
Another family-centered tale that is based on Voake's own experiences as a non-identical twin, Hello, Twins introduces Charlotte and Simon, who look different and have very different personalities, but have a unique relationship with each other. In simple, pen-and-ink and watercolor art, "Voake echoes the intensity of the twins' separate-but-together bond," wrote Gillian Engberg in her Booklist review, the critic adding that "all kids, not just twins, will find the messages about individuality and accepting differences reassuring" in Hello, Twins. The author/illustrator's "lithesome watercolor-and-ink illustrations are amusing and consistently expand" her "simple" story, maintained School Library Journal contributor Joy Fleishhaker, while in the New York Times Book Review Sara London viewed Hello, Twins as characteristic of Voake's ability to create "gesture-rich images" with "dynamic line [that] invests ordinary moments with energy and childlike pizzazz." "The importance of family bonds is at the heart of Voake's vision," London added, noting that the pictre book "reminds us that family harmony can happen even when the children sing separate songs."
Lucy, Bert, and Joe are three rambunctious kittens, and in Pizza Kittens the trio beg for pizza for dinner, but get only peas. The next night Mom and Dad cat try to encourage better table manners by serving the kittens their favorite food, but Lucy, Bert, and Joe still find ways to break a few rules of dinner-time etiquette. "Voake's signature style shines through in the sketchy watercolor-and-ink illustrations," wrote School Library Journal contributor Kathleen Kelly MacMillan, the critic adding that the author/illustrator's original "family story gets it right."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, January 15, 1986, p. 759; November 15, 1988, Denise M. Wilms, review of First Things First: A Baby's Companion, p. 588; May 1, 1989, p. 1555; October 15, 1993, p. 446; April, 1996, p. 1269; March 15, 1996, Carolyn Phelan, review of Mr. Davies and the Baby, p. 1269; February 1, 1997, p. 949; September 1, 1998, Hazel Rochman, review of Here Comes the Train, p. 129; November 1, 2000, Carolyn Phelan, review of Charlotte Voake's Alphabet Adventures, p. 99; May 1, 2002, Ilene Cooper, review of Pizza Kittens, p. 1537; June 1, 2003, review of Ginger Finds a Home, p. 812; July, 2003, Carolyn Phelan, review of Ginger Finds a Home, p. 1887; May 15, 2006, Gillian Engberg, review of Hello, Twins, p. 52.
Books for Keeps, November, 1990, p. 2.
Books for Your Children, summer, 1987, p. 21.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, April, 1997, review of Ginger, p. 299; December, 1998, review of Here Comes the Train, p. 149; June, 2002, review of Pizza Kittens, p. 384; July, 2003, review of Ginger Finds a Home, p. 465; September, 2006, Loretta Gaffney, review of Hello, Twins, p. 39.
Horn Book, January-February, 1989, p. 62; May-June, 1989, Ann A. Flowers, review of Mrs. Goose's Baby, p. 366; May-June, 1990, pp. 330-331; November-December, 1990, pp. 757-758; January, 2001, review of Elsie Piddock Skips in Her Sleep, p. 68.
Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 1992, p. 855; January 1, 1996, review of Mr. Davies and the Baby, p. 74; January 1, 1997, review of Ginger, p. 66; May 1, 2002, review of Pizza Kittens, p. 668; May 1, 2006, review of Hello, Twins, p. 469.
New York Times Book Review, November 12, 2006, Sara London, "My Brother, Myself," p. 38.
Publishers Weekly, September 30, 1988, review of First Things First, p. 64; March 24, 1989, review of Mrs. Goose's Baby, p. 69; July 13, 1990, p. 54; March 2, 1992, p. 66; July 6, 1992, p. 54; January 13, 1997, review of Ginger, p. 74; March 17, 1997, p. 85; July 27, 1998, review of Here Comes the Train, p. 75.
School Library Journal, March, 1986, p. 151; May, 1987, Kathleen Odean, review of Tom's Cat, p. 94; December 1988, Karen Litton, review of First Things First, p. 95; July, 1990, p. 65; December, 1990, p. 20; August, 1992, p. 149; December, 1993, pp. 103-104; April, 1996, Marilyn Taniguchi, review of Mr. Davies and the Baby, pp. 119-120; October, 1998, Kathy M. Newby, review of Here Comes the Train, p. 116; October, 2000, Nina Lindsay, review of Elsie Piddock Skips in Her Sleep, p. 122; April 8, 2002, review of Pizza Kittens, p. 225; May, 2002, Kathleen Kelly MacMillan, review of Pizza Kittens, p. 129; June, 2003, review of Ginger Finds a Home, p. 122; July, 2006, Joy Fleishhacker, review of Hello Twins, p. 88.
Times Educational Supplement, November 27, 1998, review of Here Comes the Train, p. 12; December 1, 2000, review of Elsie Piddock Skips in Her Sleep, p. 25
British Council Arts Magic Pencil Web site,http://magicpencil.britishcouncil.org/ (May 15, 2007), "Charlotte Voake."
Walker Books Web site,http://www.walkerbooks.co.uk/ (May 15, 2007), "Charlotte Voake."