A wonderfully creative collaboration between Anthony Browne – the UK children’s laureate (2009–2011) – “and friends” (the young artists who won a place in this book via their entries to a newspaper competition), Bear’s Magic Pencil takes readers on a journey into a forest where, armed with his mighty pencil, Bear survives all manner of encounters.

There is the wolf, which Bear must scribble out, the whale he swims with after drawing himself some swimming shorts, and even bees who buzz about Bear’s nose – until he draws them some flowers. And then there is the wonderful goose bump moment when Bear meets a panda who tells him about all the animals who are disappearing from the world because their homes are being destroyed. Bear sets out to draw a Save The Animals Party – just in time!

This is a wonderful reflection on the notion that not only is the pen mightier than the sword, but that any difficulty can be successfully encountered if one simply adds a little artistic flourish.

Incorporating 56 illustrations from children across the UK whose entries won a national competition in The Sun newspaper. There were a huge number of entries, and judging was carried out by Julia Donaldson, Theo Walcott, television writer Sarah Ball and Anthony Brown himself. Anthony then took the winning ideas and pictures and wove them together to create a brand new story. Where possible, phrases and story lines were the children’s own inventions, and the artists started from as young as four years of age. All royalties for the book go to Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity.

Author Notes Anthony has won numerous awards including the Kate Greenaway Medal (twice) and the Kurt Maschler Award (three times). In 2000, he received the highest international honour for illustration, the Hans Christian Andersen Award, for his services to children’s literature – the first British illustrator to win the prize since 1956, and in 2009 Anthony was announced as the sixth UK Children’s Laureate. Speaking about this latest award, Anthony says, “I hope to encourage more children to discover and love reading, but I want to focus particularly on the appreciation of picture books…. Picture books are for everybody at any age, not books to be left behind as we grow older. The best ones leave a tantalising gap between the pictures and the words, a gap that is filled by the reader’s imagination.” His most famous book is Gorilla.