child and polar bear, from The Ice bear by Jackie Morris

sketch of a sleeping peeping cat

a white duck in a tailcoat

Tell Me a Dragon, front cover of book by Jackie Morris, a girl feeding fairy cakes to a large blue-green dragon

Starlight Sailor, front cover, illustration by Jackie Morris, showing a child and a dog sailing in a paper boat across a sea of blue through which a blue whale swims


woman sleeping peacefully with a polar bear, from East of the Sun and West of the Moon

the jester from Singing to the Sun by Vivien French and Jackie Morris

snow leopard, front cover of The Snow Leopard by Jackie Morris, snow leopard head looking out of the picture, with great blue eyes

The Barefoot book of Classic Poems, front cover

How the Whale Became by Ted Hughes, front cover

Can You See a Little Bear by James Mayhew, front cover of book.

The Seal Children, front cover, showing child, Morlo, swimming with his mother, the selkie, by Jackie Morris

Lord of the Forest, front cover of book, by Caroline Pitcher and Jackie Morris, showing the face of a tiger

Little One We Knew You'd Come, illustrated by Jackie Morris, Mary and baby Jesus

Mariana and the Merchild by Caroline Pitcher, illustrated by Jackie Morris

The Snow Whale by Caroline Pitcher and illustrated by Jackie Morris

The Greatest Gift, illustrated by Jackie Morris

The Time of the Lion by Caroline Pitcher, illustrated by Jackie Morris, book cover showing a boy and a lion

Out of the Ark by Anita Ganeri, stories from world religions, illustrated by Jackie Morris

Stories from World Religions by Anita Ganeri, illustrated by Jackie Morris

Animals of the Bible by Mary Hoffman, illustrated by Jackie Morris

Miracles by Mary Hoffman, illustrated by Jackie Morris

Parables by Mary Hoffman, illustrated by Jackie Morris

Cities in the Sea by Sian Lewis, illustrated by Jackie Morris

Cantre'r Gwaelod by Sian Lewis, illustrated by Jackie Morris

Grandmother's Song, illustrated by Jackie Morris, written by Barbara Soros

Bears Beras and More Bears by Jackie Morris

Journeys Through Dreamtime by Anita Ganeri, illustrated by Jackie Morris

Stories From the Stars, illustrated by Jackie Morris

Jo's Storm by Caroline Pitcher, illustrated by Jackie Morris




how the whale became by Ted Hughes

How the Whale Became by Ted Hughes
illustrated by Jackie Morris
published by Faber and Faber
(also published USA, Orchard Books, and in Korea)

How the Whale Became is a series of creation stories from the poet laureate, Ted Hughes. Written in the early sixties when he and his wife were living in Spain, they are dedicated to their two children, Nicholas and Frieda.

The stories are rich and diverse and full of humor and pathos.

I first came across this book during a conversation with James Mayhew, author of Can You See a Little Bear, and many other books. It had been a favorite of his when he was growing up, and he sent me a copy and suggested that if I liked it I should send some of my work to Ted Hughes and ask him if I could illustrate the book for him. It was at the time a small paperback with line drawings, and the stories were so rich it was crying out for colour.

I had a letter back from Ted Hughes saying, very modestly, that they were always looking for artists for his "little books" so he would pass my information on to his publisher. And then while I was working on Mariana and the Merchild, listening to the radio, I heard that he had died. Days later his editor, Suzy Jenvy phoned to ask if I was still interested in the project as he had brought my work in and they had discussed it and she very much wanted to follow it through.


I worked with a wonderful designer, Sarah Hodder, and read and reread these stories so many times. I had a tape of Ted Hughes reading them in his wonderful voice and this was an eerie experience as he read the stories to me while I painted the pictures. And my children fell in love with the stories too, and the two subsequent books, Dreamfighter and other Creation Tales, and Tales from the Early World. Ted Hughes wrote these stories for his children, Nicholas and Frieda. I illustrated them for mine, Tom and Hannah.

My favorite story changes depending on how I feel. Sometimes I identify with Donkey, who want to be something else and struggles hard but ends up safe and warm in his stall, just Donkey. Sometimes with evil Owl who leads the songbirds through dark tunnels and tricks them into a world of darkness where they never sing. Sometimes Elephant, who is noble and brave and strong.

Some of the animals in the book were animal I knew. I went to Solva to draw a tortoise, and discovered just how fast they can move when you want them to be still!. The black and white dog, Foursquare, was a friends dog, Mouse, a naughty old collie.




The cat is our own cat Max, who often lies on his back and plays the violin. The chicken once lived in my garden until one day they met the same fate as the chickens in the book. And God's house is my neighbours Pembrokeshire cottage by the sea. He also grows carrots in his garden.






From The Guardian, May 31, 2000. "Ted Hughes's inventive creation fables, sometimes sly and humorous and sometimes lyrical,were first published in 1963. But they have never been seen like this before. This exquisite new edition provides illustrations whose rich, grave, muted, almost medieval beauty are in perfect harmony with the deceptive simplicity of the words"

From Gillian Clarke in the Times Ed Supplement 14 April 2000. "..a ravishingly illustrated new edition of a book first published in 1963....The text, and Jackie Morris's light-rinsed landscapes, her painterly washes, her animals as breathingly, quiveringly real as Hughes makes them in words, make this a book well worth its price"

From Financial Times, April 2000. "The master of animal imagery, Ted Hughes, wrote the creation stories in How the Whale Became for his own children. This grand new edition from Faber has pictures by Jackie Morris which manage to match Hughes's spirituality and grandiloquence...."


The book was out of print for a while but has now been reissued by Frances Lincoln in a lovely paperback edition at £9.99. There are sometimes first editions still available through second hand online bookstores.

To buy any of the books featured on this site

  • Order from your local bookshop. Small books shops are a treasure and face strong competition from the big sellers on line who buy at huge discounts. Nothing beats browsing around in a well stocked small bookshop, where you chance upon a gem that until then you had no idea you wanted.
  • Order on line either direct from publishers or from one of the big on-line booksellers
  • If you are after one of the books that is out of print try and find it on They have a fantastic resource for tracking down out of print books.
  • All of these books are available from your local library.

©Jackie Morris