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Book of the week: Portrait of a comic genius

Raymond Briggs: Blooming Books Words by Nicolette Jones The Bodley Head pound;19.99

Raymond Briggs is on record as saying that, as a childless widower, he doesn't have a great knowledge of children - except his partner's grandchildren - he doesn't go into schools, and, above all, he hated to be given books when he was a child. (Hated to be given books! Set that in capital letters on a speech balloon with jagged edges.) What irony then, that Briggs has created so many perfect presents that find their way into Christmas stockings and class libraries and engage with recipients of all ages: illustrated nursery rhymes, Father Christmas, The Snowman and The Bear for the youngest children; The Man and Ug: boy genius of the Stone Age, for youngsters old enough to relish banter and bathos; Fungus the Bogeyman, especially for bookworms; When the Wind Blows, The Tin-Pot Foreign General and the Old Iron Woman for the peacekeepers; Ethel and Ernest for budding social historians and their teachers and grandparents; and now there's Raymond Briggs: Blooming Books for anyone curious to know the intentions that lie behind the stories. Read more in this week's TES Friday magazine

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