Charlie Mackesy among artists creating charity prints to celebrate Penguin’s 85th birthday

The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and the Horse creator joins Dapo Adeola, Coralie Bickford-Smith, Jackie Morris and Vashti Harrison to raise funds for the National Literacy Trust.

The Penguin85 Prints. Image: Mica Murphy/Penguin

‘Pick up a book. Let’s begin a journey together’ is the message that author and Penguin designer Coralie Bickford-Smith wants to send out with her print, specially commissioned to mark Penguin’s 85th birthday and raise funds to aid children’s literacy.

Coralie Bickford-Smith is one of five artists who have created artwork that celebrates reading, alongside Charlie MackesyDapo AdeolaJackie Morris and Vashti Harrison, prints of which are now available to buy in the Penguin Shop now for the next 85 days. All profits from the sales will go to the National Literacy Trust, which works to get books and vital reading resources into the homes of children who need them most.

Each artwork takes a unique approach to the transformative power of books and reading. Mackesy, who used to collect Penguin classics, has breathed a new lease of life into the logo in his image. “I’ve always loved the orange covers and ever since I was a child I’ve always liked seeing Penguin books,” Mackesy says, adding that he hopes to inspire “freedom” in those who see his work, and encourage a smile.

Penguin85 prints

For Morris, the determination to get more children reading was particularly important: “When I was a child we had few books in our house. They were expensive things. I loved the places they took me to and loved the library, but was also intimidated. I didn’t want to make the wrong choice of book, and constantly chose books that were too hard for me because I loved the pictures in them, so constantly put myself up for failure,” she said.

“I think this is why librarians are important to me. A good librarian is a guide for someone who finds shelves a wilderness, or a dark forest. They can throw light into the clearings, open up vistas. And the Literacy Trust brings books and reading to those who might otherwise not gain access to books.”

All five prints are on sale now in the Penguin shop until 23 October.

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