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  • Published: 14 March 2019
  • ISBN: 9781787620490
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 128

The Kingdom Under the Sea

Folktales have never been so beautifully told or illustrated as in this collection, now available as a beautiful hardback gift edition to celebrate its 40th anniversary

A wonderful new reissued edition of the classic Joan Aiken short story collection illustrated with Jan Pienkowski's iconic silhouettes. These East European fairytales have it all: drama, magic, heroes, fairies, dragons, mermaids, adventure, bravery and beauty...

  • Published: 14 March 2019
  • ISBN: 9781787620490
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 128

About the authors

Joan Aiken

Joan Aiken was born in Sussex in 1924. She was the daughter of the American poet, Conrad Aiken; her sister, Jane Aiken Hodge, is also a novelist. Before joining the 'family business' herself, Joan had a variety of jobs, including working for the BBC, the United Nations Information Centre and then as features editor for a short story magazine. Her first children's novel, The Kingdom of the Cave, was published in 1960.

Joan Aiken wrote over a hundred books for young readers and adults and is recognized as one of the classic authors of the twentieth century. Amanda Craig, writing in The Times,said,'She was a consummate story-teller, one that each generation discovers anew.' Her best-known books are those in the James III saga, of which The Wolves of Willoughby Chase was the first title, published in 1962 and awarded the Lewis Carroll prize. Both that and Black Hearts in Battersea have been filmed. Her books are internationally acclaimed and she received the Edgar Allan Poe Award in the United States as well as the Guardian Award for Fiction in this country for The Whispering Mountain.

Joan Aiken was decorated with an MBE for her services to children's books. She died in 2004.

Jan Pienkowski

Jan Pienkowski was born in Warsaw in 1936. After creating his first book at the age of eight, Jan went on to excel in his chosen field of design, working in such diverse areas as television, theatre and greetings cards. Published in 1968, A Necklace of Raindrops was the first of several wonderful collaborations between Jan and Joan Aiken - and it was also the very first book Jan illustrated. He has since twice won the Kate Greenaway Medal for Illustration, and has created many instantly recognizable classics.

Born in Warsaw, into a family of architects and artists, Jan Pieńkowski came to London as a ten year-old who spoke no English. He quickly developed a passion for English comics - 'At my grammar school comics were banned... when we were in the sixth form there was always a race to see who could be the first to confiscate an Eagle on the day it came out.'

He studied English and Classics at Cambridge but spent most of his time designing posters, sets and costumes for student drama productions. While still in Cambridge, he was co-founder of the greetings card company, Gallery Five, of which he remains a director.

After college, he found work as an art director in advertising. 'They all thought I was very eccentric. With an English degree you were supposed to want to be a copywriter.' He also created cartoons and graphics for the BBC Children's TV series, Watch.

Jan's first book - an ABC called Annie Bridget and Charlie - was published in 1967. A year later, he started illustrating Joan Aiken's story collections. For these, he placed sharp silhouettes against a vibrant, marbled background - a technique inspired by papercuts he had seen as a child in Poland. As Joanna Carey notes in The Guardian,'This work has an enchanting elegance'. In 1972, Jan won the Kate Greenaway Medal for his illustrations for Aiken's The Kingdom by the Sea.

Another productive partnership began for Jan in 1977, when he and writer Helen Nicoll created Meg and Mog - the much-loved duo of a witch and her cat. As illustrator Mark Southgate recently observed, 'Jan Pienkowski's wonderfully creative use of the picture book format looks ground-breaking even by today's standards.' Twenty years after the series began, the books remain contemporary and have lost none of their appeal. Meg and Mog books have achieved such a lasting affection with children and parents that in a Gallup poll, conducted for The Telegraph in 1992, Jan was the third most recognised contemporary children's author (after Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake).

Jan's other books include the Nursery series, pop-up books like Haunted House, Robot and Little Monsters, and the sound effect books like Phone Book and Door Bell. In a very different style, Christmas and Easter bring the words of the King James' Bible vividly alive for a young generation.

He won the Greenaway Medal for a second time in 1980 for Haunted House. In 1996, he created a CD-ROM version. Today, most of Pienkowski's work is done on a computer. He recalls a 'whole year of despair - a ghastly period' as he got to grips with the new technology, but today the computer is central to his work. In new media, as in the conventional forms, Pienkowski persists in pushing back the boundaries.

Away from books, theatre has been a continuing interest of Jan's since Cambridge days. Among the shows he has designed are The Meg and Mog Show, two plays for Theatre de Complicité, Beauty And The Beast for the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and a spectacular production of Sleeping Beauty for Disneyland, Paris.

Jan's hobbies include skiing, gardening, films and collecting illustrated books. He also enjoys working with young people on ambitious painting projects: ranging from a mural of rain forests in Glasgow to a giant 1,000 square foot. tower at the Lyric Theatre in Hammersmith and two huge dinosaurs on a brick wall in North London, created with the help of a mere 200 children!

Praise for The Kingdom Under the Sea

Anyone who enjoyed the works of Joan Aiken and Jan Pienkowski at an impressionable age will coo fondly over the reissue of 1971's The Kingdom Under the Sea, Aiken's retelling of a series of Eastern European folk-tales. It too, is chock-full of ghastliness, as vintage children's tales used to be. Pienkowski's illustrations are whimsically macabre


The Kingdom Under the Sea is a collection of traditional European folk takes retold by Joan Aiken and illustrated by Jan Pienkowski. A book for reader and listener to enjoy

Newbury Weekly News

First published in 1971, when it won the Kate Greenaway medal, this timeless collection of stories with enigmatic titles such as The Imprisoned Queen and The Sun's Cousin, all complemented by Jan Pienkowski's atmospheric sillhouette illustrations, will captivate a new generation. A book for keeps

Mary Arrigan, Irish Examiner

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