Robin Kingsland - BOOKS FOR CHILDREN

Robin has written and illustrated over thirty books for children. "Discovered" by editor Fiona Kenshole at A&C Black publishers, he was one of the first author illustrators in their innovative "JETS" series of "integrated text" story books. 

Robin quickly gained a reputation in schools and  libraries as one of those authors whose books - with their anarchic humour and extra jokes "hidden" in the text -  got reluctant readers hooked on books.

In addition to many individual titles, Robin went on to create several of his own book series, including  the Childrens' Book of the Year nominated  "O.A.Peabody books" (four titles - Hodder Headline), the "Crabtree Chronicles" (five titles - Hodder Headline) - and the "Doghouse Reilly" books (The Bodley Head - three titles). Below are details about just some of Robin's titles...


The "JETS" Series (A&C Black/Collins) were among the first series to feature "Integrated text" - that is, they carried the narrative not only in straight typeset text, but in illustrations, picture strip panels and speech bubbles. These made the books particularly appealing to reluctant readers,  for whom large blocks of text could be intimidating. Robin went on to write five Jets titles (a total only exceeded by Michael Morpurgo!): "Free With Every Pack" "Cowardy Cowardy Cutlass" "Cutlass Rules the Waves" "The Fizziness Business" and "Mo and the Mummy Case"


Pan Macillan commissioned the FLIPPERS, books with one story on the back and one on the front.

Invited to produce a FLIPPER title, Robin opted to exploit the format by writing two stories that interlinked. Thus the first title featured "Hook, Line and Stinker" -  in which, Cecil, a cheating angler, competes with his aunt for the cup in an angling contest, while in the other story,  a "Fishy Tale" a  Pihanna causes havoc in the little river  where he has come to visit his minnow cousin. The two stories stand alone, but each stories detail also supplies "back story" for the other.

On the strength of this title, Pan Macmillan commissioned a second FLIPPER from Robin,. This time, One side of the book gives the self-promoting account of his adventure written by a professional "Poor but Honest Woodcutter's Son" ("My Own Heroic Story")  taking on a beanstalk and a giant, whoile the "other side" ("Fee, Fi, Fo... Fumfing!") tells the tale from the Ogre's point of view, as he struggles to deal with what seems to be an infestation of little creepy-crawlies (ie woodcutter's sons) in his castle.


Full of extraordinary locations,  gadgets, and hair-raising escapes, the O.A. Peabody Adventures (Hodder Headline) centred around a granny whose secret life as a British agent drag her granddaughter and her best friend into wild and outlandish plots, usually pitted against the criminal organisation P.A.N.I.C. and their leader, the evil Dr. Proonefinger... One of these titles "There are Pharaohs at the Bottom of My Garden", made it to the shortlist for the  1996  "Children's Book of the Year". 


In the struggle to increase literacy levels,  especially among boys, reading stamina needed to be developed. series like the excellent "Horrible Histories" were fostering an interest in history, but were not "sustained narrative". The "Crabtree Chronicles" (Hodder Headline) were conceived to be full narratives, each with a different historical setting, with well-researched illustrations, and historical detail planted in among the sometimes outlandish comic adventure.   


The "Doghouse Reilly" books (Bodley Head/ Red Fox) are best described as "toy-room noir". They feature a dog-eared plush toy dog, the Reilly of the title, who investigates the occasional mysteries that arise in the toyroom when the children have gone to bed...

There are three titles in the series - "Donkeys Don't Just Die, Reilly's Rules and "Sitting Ducks". 


With words by Diane Redmond, based on her children's play (in which Robin appeared as "Roving Correspondent" Homer), Th Comic Strip Odyssey told the epic greek tale in an accessible and highly dramatic series of drawings. It was a rare but successful example of Robin illustrating to someone else's text. 

 The Shirley Holmes Case Book

The characters and titles for this series were conceived by a creative

company, "Winkelmedia" - the stories, however were commissioned from Robin Kingsland. Shirley Holmes and her friends solve mysteries from their "shedquarters" in Shirley's back garden. The plots were outlandish, but still required Shirley's sleuthing abilities, the skills of her technologically gifted side-kick Boris Morris and the Martial arts expertise of best friend Kai-Lee. The challenge was to come up with suitable plots to fit the titles!! Titles like "The Case of the sheiks Missing Shake Maker" "The Case of the Missing Case" "The Case of the Sherbet Shakedown" and "The Case of the Hollywood Soap Star"

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