Se7en Discover the Just So Stories and Meet the Illustrator Alex Latimer…

You know those classic books that everyone has read… and yet you have found it difficult if not impossible to read… meet The Just So Stories – it has been a book we have battled with forever… about once a year we bring it out, read the first story and then back on the shelf it goes. I’ll tell you why: the language is tricky, it is full of “best beloved’s” and the stories have a very meandering way of getting to the point.

With the help of this book, a far cry from the grim paperback we have always used… and this illustrator, hidden amidst the gang…


The Just So Stories have been elevated to family favourite and our home is filled with tricky language and “best beloved’s” are floating around with alarming regularity.

I confess, when I was asked to review this book I was a little daunted, but I really wanted to give it one more try and I am so glad we did. This edition is published by Penguin Books South Africa and illustrated by a home grown illustrator, Alex Latimer. I have to say the illustrations pulled us along, they are funny, they tell the story… if your mind wanders off a little bit… then the illustrations pull you back. The thing about these stories is that you need to read a story from start to finish and really listen to the words. We loved the words when we paid attention to them – they are clever and the word play is superb. The animals have such great personalities. I’ll bet you have friends and family just like the lazy camel… and the cat that walked alone!!! Finally we can see why these have been such popular classics through generations. Really if you have tried them before then keep on trying, I am so glad we persevered with them!!! The stories are fabulous, we just needed a little help to keep us focused on them… and help came in the form of a fabulous illustrator that we got to meet!!!


Can you believe, he lives nearby, and stopped by for coffee and a chat last week… he spent plenty of time going way beyond the call of duty, admiring young artists’ work… And then he sat drawing and chatting at our kitchen table…


He drew, in our slowly but surely “getting famous sketchbook”…


Would you just look… we have an Alex Latimer illustration in our sketchbook!!!

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What did we learn about Alex Latimer, the illustrator:

  1. He loves fine coffee.
  2. He grew up in East London, in the Eastern Cape… he loves living in sunny South Africa.
  3. He wanted to be a writer, so he studied Philosophy and English.
  4. He wrote a book and it needed illustrations, so he took about a year of drawing to create the illustrations he was after.
  5. He does all his illustrating in pencil, his tools of the trade are: a 0.5 2B clutch pencil on printer paper. He scans his drawings into his computer and photoshops in the colour and details.
  6. He prefers drawing animals to people, people are harder because all the stuff that makes up a person has to be simplified onto paper.
  7. He reads a story once or twice and then waits for illustration inspiration to hit him, and he works at a desk in his converted garage…
  8. And the se7en + 1th thing…

  9. He likes deadlines, while he is always working on a project, deadlines help him to finish them.

Meanwhile, coffee at the kitchen table on a rainy day was not enough for us… we headed for his book launch at The Book Lounge on Saturday…


We love The Book Lounge, the shelves are packed with good things to read…


There was feasting and chatting…


And colouring…


And storytelling…


And illustrating…


And we met Rudyard Kipling… gotta say I love this, I think he should have had a little feature in the book!!!


And here is our own inspired gallery:

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How the Whale Got his Throat

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The Butterfly that Stamped

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The Cat Who Walked Alone

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The Elephant’s Child

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The Beginning of the Armadillos

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The Sing-Song of Old Man Kangaroo

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The Crab That Palyed with the Sea

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How the Rhinoceros got his Skin

Now when you go looking for The Just So Stories and interesting things to do on the internet, apart from suggestions to act the stories out, you may not find a lot out there. So here are some of our quick and easy animal crafty projects we have enjoyed:

Wild Animals from Index Cards

Really Wild Adventurous Animal Arting

Se7en + 1 Wild Animals on Canvas

Se7en + 1 Easy Beastly Masks

Se7en Wild Paper Animals

Beastly Bunting in Se7en Steps

That’s us… except don’t you love how he signed our book… with an extra illustration!!!

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Thank you so much to Alex Latimer, for all the time and illustrations; The Book Lounge for a fabulous launch; And Penguin Books for the book to review and co-ordinating of events. We were not paid to write this review, we were given a copy of the Just So Stories to Review, and the opinions expressed were all our own.

10 Replies to “Se7en Discover the Just So Stories and Meet the Illustrator Alex Latimer…”

  1. Oh, oh! Favourite book around here! ‘You must not forget the suspenders, Best Beloved!’

  2. Oh Best Beloved… Mamalion, What have we been missing!!! I have a feeling this is going to be a seasonal book that gets pulled out for family reading again and again!!! How could we have missed the fun for so many years!!! Hope you have a fabulous weekend!!!

  3. We love this book!!! What a blessing to have such a talented mentor!!! And living close by. Blessed you are! Blessed!

  4. See if you can get the audio book with someone clever reading it- that’s how we heard it first, on a car trip. And quoted ever more after!

    Another favourite audiobook- The Phantom Tollbooth! ‘You’re stuck in the dooooollllllddddruuuuummmmssss’. And the Penderwicks. Have you had those books yet? There are 3 so far, and they’re all lovely.

  5. Hay Mamalion, Oh I hadn’t thought of the audio book… great idea!!! We really enjoyed the tales this time around!!! And my kids love the Phantom Tollbooth… though not the audiobook. I don’t think we have met the Penderwicks either!!! I must improve our audio book collection – it is very thin!!! I am actually looking for a fab Winnie the Pooh right now _ i have a feeling that will crack the audio book approval of my gang!!! Thanks for the tips!!! Hope you are having a fabulous weekend!!!

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