My oldest treasure is a beaten-up, pages-falling-out copy of a French wordless book called Patatrac, by Jean-Jacques Loup. It still is one of my most beloved books, and inspired my own Looky Book. Luckily, Mum was a librarian, as it had to be bandaged up and brought back to life many times.
Considering that my normal book pile includes novels by David Mitchell and Neil Gaiman, my greatest guilty pleasure is reading books like Dominic Harvey's Childhood of an Idiot. Not only is it bloody funny, but if you were a child of the 70s and 80s it's an accurate portrayal of, how should I word this ... a much more relaxed style of parenting. I guess you had to be there.
There are many books I've started and couldn't finish. There are way too many incredible books on my bedside table to waste time on things I don't like. However, I have felt compelled to keep some classics, even though I couldn't finish them.
Frankenstein and Treasure Island; they are both great bedtime stories - well, they always put me to sleep before I can read more than a few pages. Nevertheless, I've kept both of them because I own two stunningly illustrated editions by Bernie Wrightson and Ralph Steadman respectively. See, I can still enjoy the great classics, even if the words send me to sleep.
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On my daughter's bookshelf is a threadbare copy of AA Milne's Christopher Robin Verses, from 1936, that I inherited from my grandmother. I love Christopher Robin, and EH Shepard's illustrations are delightful. It's a great book to dip in and out of for bedtime reading with the kids. It's a treat to pass on some family traditions, and I've loved sharing my favourites like The Emperor's Rhyme, Bad Sir Brian Botany, the Twice Times Bears, and Pinkle Purr, (whose name I appropriated for one of the kitten characters in my Flying Furballs series).
I'm sure my girls will have their own favourites to pass on one day. The biggest collections on our bookshelves are devoted to those ageless family faves, Asterix and Tintin, although we still have a few gaps. When I'm visiting schools, I always tell children that The Lorax by Dr Seuss is one of the reasons I'm a children's book author and illustrator today.
Not only was it my favourite childhood book, but it's also one of my all-time favourites. If I could create just one book in my lifetime that was as undiminished in its freshness and still as relevant 45 years after it was made, that would be a real achievement. I still have a few years up my sleeve to create that great masterwork, as Dr Seuss was 67 when he wrote The Lorax.
* Donovan Bixley is a children's book creator and illustrator of My First Board Book Animals & Colours (Hachette, $17 each). For babies and toddlers, The My First Board Books series has a Kiwi twist, helping kids learn names of animals and colours in English and Te Reo.