John Burningham and Helen Oxenbury have been honored with the first-ever double BookTrust Lifetime Achievement Award, which celebrates the body of work of an author or illustrator who has made an outstanding contribution to children's literature. Previous recipients include Shirley Hughes, Judith Kerr and Raymond Briggs.
The couple, who married in 1964, have won several literary awards individually but have collaborated on only one book together, There's Going to Be a Baby (2010). Burningham's works include Borka: The Adventures of a Goose with No Feathers; Husherbye; Avocado Baby and Granpa. Oxenbury is best known for illustrating titles such as The Three Little Wolves; Ten Little Fingers & Ten Little Toes; and We're Going on a Bear Hunt.
"I'm so very flattered when I hear people now say they love my books and that something I did 50 years ago still works and is enjoyed by their family," Burningham said.
Oxenbury commented: "It's particularly lovely as we have been awarded this honor jointly--and to get an award from BookTrust who know everything there is to know about children's books is just wonderful."
BookTrust CEO Diana Gerald said, "John always creates such funny and lovable characters. His books evoke such fond memories for me and he has had an extraordinary impact in terms of child development. Helen's illustrations and writing are so warm, so elegant and yet so forward thinking; her work enables children from all walks of life to see their faces in the pages.
"We have taken the unprecedented decision to honor them both because choosing between two giants of children's books proved near impossible, and we felt that both their brilliance should be recognized. Acknowledging these two titans of industry is a tremendous honour and they are both so equally deserving."