John Burningham studied illustration and graphic design at the Central School of Art, graduating with distinction in 1959. Many illustration commissions followed including iconic posters for London Transport, before the publication of Borka: the Adventures of a Goose with No Feathers, John's first book for children (Cape, 1963) which won the prestigious Kate Greenaway Medal for illustration and heralded the beginning of an extraordinary career. John Burningham has since written and illustrated over thirty picture books, that have been translated and distributed all over the world. These feature his classic and much loved children's books including Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, by Ian Fleming (Jonathan Cape, 1964); Mr Gumpy's Outing (Jonathan Cape, 1970) also awarded the Kate Greenaway Medal; Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne (Jonathan Cape, 1972); The Shopping Basket (Random House, 1980); The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame (Penguin/Puffin, 1983); Granpa (Jonathan Cape, 1984) later made into an animated film and Oi! Get off our Train (Jonathan Cape, 1989) and various books for adults England (Jonathan Cape, 1992); France (Jonathan Cape, 1998); The Time of Your Life (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2002) and When We Were Young (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2004). John is married to the illustrator, Helen Oxenbury. They have three children, three grandchildren and a dog named Miles. They live in London.
PreS-Gr 2-When the children want a pet, their parents reluctantly send them to the Dogs' Home with the instructions to adopt one with a proper pedigree. The children, who follow their own counsel, have only one requirement: they want a dog that nobody else wants, one that will not easily find a home. The canine that fills this requirement is Courtney, an old, unwanted mongrel who proves to have a long list of unexpected capabilities. He wins grudging approval from the parents by cooking, playing the violin, and entertaining the baby. When he disappears, their disapproval of his undocumented lineage is confirmed (``If they are not thoroughbreds, you cannot rely on them''). During a summer boating accident, when the children are dangerously set adrift in the sea, they are miraculously towed ashore by something or someone the adults cannot quite see. Of course, readers may guess, or, if they look closely, they may even see the deliverer. This is all typically assured Burningham at his ironic best: the deadpan, unregenerate parents; the sagacious youngsters; and a dog who looks a bit like Groucho Marx. The artist's expressive, broken-line cartoons convey his wit. His spreads, full of white space and unsaturated colors, express a lightheartedness well suited to a message of the triumph of simple, childlike acceptance-a message ever so gently delivered with successfully sly humor.-Kate McClelland, Perrot Memorial Library, Greenwich, CT
His expressive pictures carry entire conviction in this splendid
book * Observer *
This is a classic Burningham, a real joy * The Good Book Guide *
He is one of the best writers in the business * Financial Times *
The language of children is Burningham's * TES *
Burningham's ( Hey, Get Off Our Train! ; Granpa ) insouciant tale opens as two children beseech their parents for a dog. Although the adults insist that such a pet needs a great deal of care, they breezily give in (``Oh, very well then, if you must.''), provided that the kids choose a ``proper dog. One with a pedigree.'' Instead, the youngsters decide on an old mongrel named Courtney who, as it turns out, is no ordinary canine. Soon after arriving, he slips away and returns lugging a huge pink trunk. From it he pulls a chef's hat and proceeds to cook up a meal. Donning a waiter's jacket, Courtney serves the food in style, and then plays the violin while the family dines. This astonishing pet goes on to display great bravery when he saves the baby from the family's burning house. Like the siblings featured here, readers may be distressed when Courtney and his trunk disappear one day, but the tale's cleverly cryptic ending implies that the heroic dog has not really abandoned his adopted family. A caveat: though intentionally sketchy, Burningham's art on some pages seems unfinished. Ages 4-7. (Aug.)