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Illustrator and author named in New Year honours list

Illustrator and author named in New Year honours list

04 January 2012

Children’s illustrator Alex Brychta, and phonics expert Debbie Hepplewhite, were recognized in the Queen’s New Year’s honours list this year. 

They received MBEs in recognition of their services to children’s literature and education, respectively.


Alex Brychta is one of the series creators of the Oxford Reading Tree. In partnership with Roderick Hunt MBE, he has been involved with the programme since the early 1980s and his humorous and detailed illustrations have inspired millions of children to learn to read.

Having celebrated 25 years in 2011, the series has become the most successful primary literacy scheme in the UK and sales now extend to more than 130 countries across the world. 


Debbie Hepplewhite is a synthetic phonics expert, experienced writer, and author of the new phonics teaching programme in Oxford Reading Tree: Floppy’s Phonics Sounds and Letters.

An ex-head teacher with more than 20 years’ teaching experience, she has been actively promoting the need for systematic, synthetic phonics for reading and spelling for many years.


Kate Harris, Managing Director of Oxford Education at Oxford University Press, said “Everyone who has worked on the Oxford Reading Tree over the years knows how much Alex Brychta deserves this award and the vital part his illustrations have played in its success in engaging children. We are delighted that Debbie Hepplewhite has joined the winning Oxford Reading Tree team as our new phonics expert and that she has been recognised for her campaign to help children read through phonics. I would like to offer my congratulations to both of them for this well-deserved recognition.

Find out more about the Oxford Reading Tree