Jan Pieńkowski obituary

Illustrator and creator of the Meg and Mog children’s books, who also used pop-up and paper cut-outs to thrilling effect

Jan Pieńkowski, who has died aged 85, was a most original illustrator, writer and designer of pop-up books, whose Polish childhood and experiences as a wartime refugee fed into his mesmerising work. He published more than 140 books for children and described the essence of his prodigious output simply as telling stories in pictures.

Pieńkowski’s characteristic style is immediately recognisable. For younger readers he worked in bright colours and used bold shapes. For older children, he often used a more varied palette with his trademark colourful ink washes as a background to black paper cut-outs. One of his most successful titles, in collaboration with the writer Helen Nicoll from 1972 until her death in 2012, was Meg and Mog, a series of illustrated adventures about a somewhat hapless witch and her stripy cat. Pieńkowski said in an interview that Meg and Mog gave him the opportunity to use terrible monsters from his childhood and make them into harmless toys.

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