When I remember the books I loved as a child I always think of pictures and illustrations. They are such an important part of telling a story. My older sister gave me Aesop’s Fables: The Lion and the Rat by Brian Wildsmith for my fifth birthday. Inside it says “16 shillings”, so I’ve had it for a very long time, and even as a child I remember thinking it was a special book. I loved everything about it, from the story to the way the words were placed on the pages, but mostly I loved the illustrations and the colours. It’s one of the few picture books that survived my childhood without being ripped or scribbled on. There’s drama in the jungle, plenty of animals, and a little rat who saves the day.

At school, a teacher read Spike Milligan’s poem “On the Ning Nang Nong”. It was bonkers and funny and made everyone laugh. After that lesson there was a mad rush to get out the few copies of his Silly Verse for Kids available from the library. Eventually I got one of my own and would spend ages reading and rereading the poems. Milligan’s funny black-and-white line drawings made me feel as if it might be possible to try doing my own.

‘Spike Milligan’s funny line drawings made me feel it might be possible to do my own’ … Liz Pichon

‘Spike Milligan’s funny line drawings made me feel it might be possible to do my own’ … Liz Pichon

Dr Dog by Babette Cole is one of my all-time favourite funny books, and one I’d happily read again and again to my kids. Poor Dr Dog has to look after the Gumboyle family, who are all pretty hopeless at taking care of themselves (nits, smokers’ coughs – as if these ailments would be given the green light in a publishing meeting today!). The characters all suffer from mostly self‑inflicted illnesses, and after Grandad’s dangerous gases build up and he blows the roof off the house, Dr Dog needs a holiday. Babette’s humorous illustrations are superb and subversive, which is something I love about all her books.

Like many, I discovered Sue Townsend’s The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾ through the TV series – which was good, but I preferred the book. I’m sure most kids would be able to identify with Adrian’s tricky life, even if they didn’t know what a bath cube was. (Think fancy fizzy bath bomb – only square and more like chalk.) It’s so brilliantly written, and funny too.

I’ve just got my hands on the whole series of Mortal Engines books by Philip Reeve, with gorgeous new covers by Ian McQue, and I’m already gripped. Since Reeve wrote the first book in the quartet 17 years ago, Mortal Engines has gone on to win all kinds of awards. It’s beautifully written and conjures up an amazing fantasy world. Peter Jackson bought the film rights a while ago, but has been busy in the meantime with other adaptations, such as The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. After a long wait, the new film will finally be released in December, and so there will be lots more people discovering the books for the first time. They are in for an exciting treat.

Tom Gates: What Monster? by Liz Pichon is published by Scholastic.