Original picture book artwork by Axel Scheffler is available for purchase from Children's Book Illustration.
Axel Scheffler was born in 1957 in Hamburg, Germany. At school, although always good at art, he never really considered a career in illustration. But long before he began his professional life, he had won his first drawing prize for an international chocolate company - his prize was a cuddly lilac cow.
Axel went on from school to study History of Art at the University of Hamburg - but he didn't like the course and decided to leave. Knowing that he wanted to live in another country and learn a second language, he moved to England to study illustration at the Bath Academy of Art. During his time there he spent much of his time drawing sheep and peacocks in the grounds of Corsham Court.
After graduating with a first class degree, Axel moved to London where he began illustrating for a variety of English and German advertising companies, magazines and newspapers. He took his portfolio to a number of publishers and Faber commissioned him to illustrate The Piemakers by Helen Cresswell and The Bottle Rabbit by Bernard McCabe. In 1989, Walker asked Axel to illustrate a text by Jon Blake, You're a Hero, Daley B.
A writer called Julia Donaldson was also writing songs for Playdays at this time and her song A Squash and a Squeeze (reissued to celebrate 10 years of the award winning partnership in June 2003) was commissioned to be a picture book. Axel Scheffler was recommended as an illustrator for the text and an award-winning team was created.
Their next book, The Gruffalo, was published in March 1999 and has already become a modern classic, selling more than 2 million copies worldwide and translated into over 20 languages. It was nominated for the Kate Greenaway Medal, and it won the 1999 Smarties Gold Medal Award for picture books and the 2000 Blue Peter Award for The Best Book to Read Aloud. It was followed by Monkey Puzzle, also nominated for the Kate Greenaway Medal, and Room on the Broom was published September 2001 and also won the 2002 Blue Peter Award for The Best Illustrated Book to Read Aloud. Axel also continues to illustrate for other authors as well, including Ian Whybrow and David Henry Wilson. The next title The Smartest Giant in Town was shortlisted for the Red House Children's Book Award, and the Snail and the Whale was published to great acclaim and won the 2005 Blue Peter Best Illustrated Book to Read Aloud Award.
Axel Scheffler has achieved worldwide acclaim for his humorous illustrations, and his books have been translated into over 29 languages. He has enjoyed particular success in his award-winning picture book collaborations with Julia Donaldson, but is also the best-selling illustrator of novelty books such as The Bedtime Bear. More recently he has been called upon to design Gordon Brown's annual Christmas card! (2006)
Still living in London, Axel makes frequent visits to continental Europe. His hobbies include walking, cooking and reading and beadwork.