(#inthepicture its a weekly ‘tweet-up’ of around 50 parents, teachers, librarians and artists, who discuss a given topic or author/illustrator – this page is designed as a precis for a session I am moderating on 25th April – have a look at http://inthepicture.moonfruit.com/ for more information, and come join us!)
Perhaps most famous for Mr Gumpy’s Outing, John Burningham writes exciting , timeless stories with careful, wistful illustrations. The books are much-loved by teachers for their effective ease to read aloud, and tackle some dark themes such as abandonment (Cloudland) to loss (Grandpa).
John Burningham was born April 27, 1936 in Farnham, Surrey, England  to Charles and Jessie (Mackintosh) Burningham. After primary school, he joined the Friends’ Ambulance Unit in 1953. When he was 20, he attended the Central School of Art and graduated in 1959.
After assorted work on posters for London and British Transport and animated films, he began his writing and illustrating career in 1963  with the book Borka: The Adventures of a Goose With No Feathers, published by Jonathan Cape, which won the 1963 Librarians’ Kate Greenaway Medal.
Cape were currently looking for an illustrator for a forthcoming children’s adventure serial Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang written by Ian Fleming, their most successful author at that time. Fleming had suggested cartoonist ‘Trog’ (Wally Fawkes) of the Daily Mail, but the newspaper would not allow the illustrator of their popular Flook strip to work for an author whose James Bond stories were adapted as a comic strip for their arch-rival Daily Express. Fleming consulted his motor engineer friend Charles Amherst Villiers, who produced a sketch based on Fleming’s description of the magical car- this drawing was passed to Cape’s popular new illustrator John Burningham, who was asked to illustrate the whole series on the strength of his debut story Borka. Fleming’s Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang was originally published in three volumes, 1964–1965, and an omnibus volume followed in 1968. Burningham’s witty and timeless art-work, along with Fleming’s imaginative text, led Chitty to become the most famous and best loved car in fiction
In 1964 Burningham married author/illustrator Helen Gillian Oxenbury, and continued to write. His children’s book Mr. Gumpy’s Outing won the 1970 Kate Greenaway Medal, making Burningham a two-time winner of the award.
His 1984 book Granpa was the basis for a 1989 animated film, also called Granpa.