Between the lines

Geraldine Brennan

TES books editor Geraldine Brennan on the inside literary track

The annual winter exhibitions organised by the Illustration Cupboard agency have helped to make children's book art seriously collectable over the past decade. The tenth anniversary show offers a rare chance to see work by Jan Pienkowski, who rarely exhibits. His illuminated black ink illustrations for his new Fairy Tales collection will set you back between pound;850 and Pounds 2,750, but fear not, there are limited edition prints by Satoshi Kitamura and Benedict Blathwayt for pound;67.50. This year's highlight must be the first pieces shown by Lauren Child, a selection of her doll's-house "room sets" photographed by Polly Borland for The Princess and the Pea. One room is being auctioned for Cancer Research (blind bids starting at pound;1,500) until the show closes on December 4. Between now and then, it's at the Light Gallery, 5a Porchester Place, London W2, 10am-6pm weekdays, open till 7pm Thursday December 1, 11am-6pm on Saturday November 26 (a family day with storytelling in the afternoon), closed Sunday November 27. Or visit online: www.illustrationcupboard.com

For a bookish Christmas gift that combines a warm glow of altruism with a place in literary heritage, check out the British Library's Adopt a Book scheme which has supported conservation work on 3,500 books in the collection since 2000. Among the latest books that need help for life, not just for Christmas, are a 1958 volume of Dickens's Christmas Books (pictured) and Ted Hughes's 1961 children's collection, Meet My Folks (this is reproduced in full in Hughes's lovely new Collected Poems edition illustrated by Raymond Briggs, Faber Pounds 16.99, if you need reminding about it). Or you could rescue Hans Christian Andersen's Ice Maiden (1863) in his bicentenary year. If you'd rather save a classic cookbook (Marguerite Ninet's 1899 Dainty Meals for Small Households, perhaps) or gardening book, they have those too.

The minimum individual donation is pound;25; give more and your gift will be recognised with tours of the library, personalised bookplates and, for Pounds 250, a visit to the conservation studios and a formal introduction to the book of choice. This is a good option for schools. The first school to join the scheme, Robert May's in Odiham, Hampshire, used it to study paper engineering (they sponsored a Victorian pop-up), publishing history and the science of conservation.

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Geraldine Brennan

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