Katie has mentioned the beautiful illustrations of Margaret Tempest before in her When We Were Little post on Allison Uttley’s Little Grey Rabbit. It was interesting because that post generated so many comments from fellow children’s literature lovers who remembered the series about the Little Grey Rabbit and many who in particular loved the illustrations.
Margaret Tempest began illustrating in the 1920′s and illustrated the Little Grey Rabbit and Fuzzypeg the Hedgehog books for Allison Uttley. It is interesting that in some reading I have done on the Grey Rabbit books it is said that Allison Uttley and Margaret Tempest would argue as to who should take the credit for the characters’ success.
Margaret Tempest did write and illustrate 20 books on her own and one of those is very dear to me. My creased little copy of The Little Lamb of Bethlehem, first published 1957, is treasured as it holds many memories of childhood Christmases.
It is the story of the birth of Jesus told through the eyes of a lamb who follows the star of Bethlehem to the manger. On his return to the hills from witnessing this great event he spreads the word to the birds who carry the message throughout the world.
The story is sweet but it’s certainly Tempest’s gorgeous, subtle watercolours that make this little book so special.