Moving Molly - Story Snug
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Happy Birthday Shirley Hughes!

Happy 90th Birthday Shirley Hughes!

Shirley Hughes’ picture books were a staple of my primary school years and we often borrowed her stories from the library. Her instantly recognisable illustrations immediately transport me back to the book corner in my school classrooms and one of my most cherished childhood books is my well-loved copy of My Naughty Little Sister which Shirley illustrated.

We have several of Shirley’s books on our bookshelf and in celebration of her birthday we’ve chosen our favourites to share with you. We would love to hear about your favourite Shirley Hughes’ books and the memories you have of reading them, either as children or with your children.

Dogger: Dogger is Dave’s very well loved, soft toy. One day Dave takes Dogger to school to collect his sister Bella but, distracted by preparations for the school fair and the ice cream van, Dave forgets about Dogger. At home they turn the house upside down to find Dogger but he is nowhere to be found. At the school fair Dave discovers Dogger on a toy stall but before he can get Dogger back a little girl buys him. Dave is distraught but Big Sister Bella finds a solution that ensures that Dogger is returned to Dave.

Shirley has captured the importance of a soft toy to a child and the emotions that are evoked when that toy goes missing. We’re drawn into the drama of the situation and empathise with Dave’s panic when he realises that Dogger is about to be sold. Dogger takes a timeless look at a situation that is familiar to us all and a special 40th anniversary version of the story has just been published.

Dogger - Story Snug

Moving Molly: Molly lives in the town but wishes she had a garden. One day the family move to a new house. Molly finds that living in the country is different to what she is used to but soon discovers that the garden next door is a wonderful place to play in, especially when a new family moves in next door!

I always recommend Moving Molly to parents who are looking for picture books to help children with the experience of moving house. As well as capturing the excitement of living somewhere new the story also acknowledges the insecurities evoked by the experience.

Moving Molly - Story Snug

Lucy & Tom at Christmas: Lucy and Tom’s Christmas celebrations start with them stirring the Christmas pudding. Preparations continue with writing to Father Christmas, present wrapping and decorating the tree. Lucy and Tom wake up early for a traditional English Christmas Day with a church service, followed by lunch and games by the fire.

Lucy & Tom at Christmas mirrors my childhood Christmases and I love the way that Shirley Hughes acknowledges that all the festive excitement can also be a bit much for children and make them grumpy and cross as well!  I love the colour scheme on the new cover, red and gold decorations on Christmas trees are my favourite!

Lucy & Tom at Christmas - Story Snug

Dixie O’Day: Dixie and Percy’s adventures are a collaboration with Shirley’s daughter Clara Vulliamy who is the illustrator of these fast paced adventures with their two doggy heroes. The highly illustrated early chapter books bridge the reading gap for children who are moving from picture books to chapter books. Each has seven chapters, one for every night of the week, but they are so full of action that we can never read just one at a time and we love the maps that are included in each story.

Dixie and Percy’s adventures include a colourful cast of characters including Dixe’s rich and rather conceited neighbour Lou Ella. Our favourite story is Dixie O’Day and the Haunted House, while camping on a stormy night Dixie and Percy get into difficulties so seek shelter in an old house where they are welcomed by a mysteriously, friendly old lady. This is a thrilling spooky story for adults as well as children, it’s a perfect read for Halloween!

Dixie O'Day and the Haunted House - Story Snug

My Naughty Little Sister: My Naughty Little Sister was written by Dorothy Edwards and illustrated by Shirley Hughes. The stories were inspired by Dorothy’s little sister, Phyllis and My Naughty Little Sister’s adventures make us laugh. They are also quite shocking, especially when My Naughty Little Sister bites Father Christmas, eats all the trifle at Bad Harry’s birthday party and eats the workman’s sandwiches. However, she is also very cute when she goes to school and we did sympathise with her when she had measles!

My childhood version of My Naughty Little Sister has this cover. My mum bought my copy and read it to me when I was five and went into hospital to have my adenoids out, it’s one of my earliest memories of having stories read to me! The My Naughty Little Sister CD is the one that my daughter often chooses to listen to when she’s ill. Shirley’s illustrations are the perfect accompaniment to My Naughty Little Sister’s adventures, we particularly love the illustrations of her looking cross!!

My Naughty Little Sister - Story Snug

Thank you Shirley Hughes for creating stories that have left me and so many readers with so many wonderful childhood memories. Have a wonderful, wonderful birthday!

Do you have a favourite Shirley Hughes’ book or illustration? We’d love to hear your favourites in the comments.

Dogger - Shirley Hughes - Story Snug

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18 responses to “Happy Birthday Shirley Hughes!”

  1. Kim Carberry avatar

    These books look so familiar but I don’t remember reading them although I am sure I have. These sound like great books. #MMBC

    1. Catherine avatar

      I’m sure that you must have read some Shirley Hughes as a child, they were the staple of our school book box!

  2. Cheryl | TimeToCraft avatar

    Her illustrations are the part I remember most from my childhood. I’ve loved sharing her books with my own children. They especially loved Alfie and Annie Rose books, and My Naughty Little Sister. #MMBC

    1. Catherine avatar

      I think it’s lovely when we can share books that we loved as a child with our own children 🙂

  3. Kate avatar

    I am pretty sure I remember that last one from my childhood. I would like to read the others

    1. Catherine avatar

      I loved My Naughty Little Sister when I was a child!

  4. Acorn Books avatar

    It’s so hard to choose a favourite, Shirley Hughes has written so many wonderful books! They take me back to my childhood too but they really stand the test of time as my boys love them just as much.
    I think I’d have to choose the Alfie stories, or the nursery collection books as my 2yo is obsessed with them at the moment.

    1. Catherine avatar

      I agree, the nursery collection books are lovely 🙂

  5. suz avatar

    Oh, Shirley Hughes books are classics. I always laughed at My Naughty Little Sister too.

    1. Catherine avatar

      I was always in awe of My Naughty Little Sister, she seemed so naughty and I wouldn’t have dared to do most of the things that she did! Biting Father Christmas is an unthinkable act!!

  6. BookBairn avatar

    These books made such an impression on me growing up and I think BookBairn is just getting to an age where she would appreciate them! Happy birthday Shirley! And great post Catherine! #readwithme

    1. Catherine avatar

      Thanks Kim. I think that BookBairn would love many of the Alfie and Annie Rose stories 🙂

  7. Sarah MumofThree World avatar

    Somehow I missed out on Shirley Hughes in my own childhood, but people bought them for our kids when they were little and we soon came to love Alfie and Annie Rose, but, above all, Dogger! We absolutely loved that story and I could probably still recite it off the top of my head, I’ve read it so many times! But it still brought a tear to my eye every time – the painful loss of Dogger and then the love of a sister for her brother. Sob!

    1. Catherine avatar

      Dogger is a wonderful story and I find it no surprise that children still enjoy it even 40 years after it was first published 🙂

  8. Shell Louise avatar

    I bought Aiden the Shirley Hughes collection when he was a baby. It’s now been passed on to the girls 🙂

    1. Catherine avatar

      That is such a gorgeous present for a new baby 🙂

  9. Debbie Roberts avatar

    Hi Catherine, I have never heard of Shirley Hughes or am familiar with any of her books. Which is a shame as they all look lovely. I like the first three books as they are very relatable for children. The last two books sound like fun and games, which all children love!

    Thank you for linking up with the #MMBC

    1. Catherine avatar

      Shirley Hughes’ stories are part of my childhood and I also had several of her stories in my classroom book box when I first started teaching.