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Children's Books : Shirley's still in the pink

On the eve of her 77th birthday, children's illustrator Shirley Hughes is on the cusp. She is entering, she says, a heady and exhilarating phase of creativity. Nevertheless, she was surprised to win the much-coveted CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal for illustration last week.

It's not that she's coy - Shirley Hughes is far too down to earth for that - it's just that she's been around for so long, she says, that she didn't think anyone would notice. What the judges did notice in her award-winning book, Ella's Big Chance: a fairy tale retold, was her "outstanding craftsmanship", "exceptional sense of composition and a gorgeous use of colour".

Ella's Big Chance is a luscious retelling of Cinderella for the older child, set in the glamorous Art Deco period of the 1920s, with a buxom Renoiresque heroine, stick-insect stepsisters and a glorious twist to the ending.

Read more in this week's TES

Ella's Big Chance: a fairy tale retold by Shirley Hughes is published by The Bodley Head nbsp;nbsp;

Friday features will continue to appear in the paper through the summer, but the magazine will return in all its glory on September 3 2004 nbsp;

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