On black and white etchings

The title of William Pene du Bois’s books The Twenty-One Balloons sparks wonderful images in my mind. After reading it, I loved reading the quirky writing and William Pene du Bois’ whimsical ideas about utopia (I won’t ruin the story, but I will tell you it involves restaurant-based government…) but I especially loved William Pene du Bois’ black and white etchings. See:





twenty one balloons 1


The images created by the idea of twenty-one balloons obviously did not only inspire me – look at the various colourful front covers that have been designed:

twenty one balloons 3 twenty one balloons 2


Generally when we think of book illustrations we think of picture books, but I love books for older kids that include illustrations. There is something wonderful about a book written years and years ago (in this case, 1947) that still has the same illustrations. Or even a book that has had its illustrations reimagined – think of how many different editions of Alice in Wonderland there are, and each time someone creates new images for the story, they help tell a different version of the story. We are told at uni that in picture books, the illustrations tell half the story, but I guess what I’m saying is that maybe this is true in books that aren’t strictly ‘picture books’.


When scouting around for book covers, I stumbled across this lovely poster drawn by William Pene du Bois. I know it’s not strictly from The Twenty-One Balloons, but I couldn’t resist sharing it with you:

twenty one balloons 4



One comment

  1. Pingback: On where the list of 1001 Children’s Books I Must Read Before I Grow Up (Too Much) comes from | 1001 Children's Books

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