Sunday, February 12, 2017

Show and Tell: Exploring the Fine Art of Children's Book Illustration

Show and Tell: Exploring the Fine Art of Children's Book Illustration by Dilys Evans
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Date: March 2008
Format: hardcover
How did I get this book? borrowed from library
Rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a very informative exploration of picture book art focusing on 12 different illustrators. As the author states, this is not meant to be a "best of" list, but rather she chose a group of artists she felt offered "a wide range of styles, technique, and content" and I feel she certainly delivered on that. All of the featured artists may not be my particular favorites, but I definitely learned a lot by reading more about their work, background, inspirations, and process.

Only three of the featured artists were completely new to me (Trina Schart Hyman, Petra Mathers, and Harry Bliss), but this book piqued my interest in their work -- particularly the prolific Trina Schart Hyman whose chapter I found particularly intriguing. The other nine illustrators (Brian Selznick, Bryan Collier, Paul O. Zelinsky, Hilary Knight, David Wiesner, David Shannon, Betsy Lewin, Denise Fleming, and Lane Smith) I had previously read at least one of their books, but oftentimes it was their most popular work or their Caldecott award-winning work. So even for those artists I previously was somewhat familiar with, I've now been introduced to a broader range of their work. While I probably won't seek out every single one mentioned, I have certainly added to my picture book TBR list! I've already borrowed quite a few from the library and (shocker!) ordered used copies of two out of print titles my library system didn't have.

This sort of deep-dive into picture books and illustration won't be for everyone, but as someone who reads a ton of picture books these days -- both with my son and now on my own -- it is an area I want to learn more about. Out of habit, I still tend to focus on the text more than the art when I read a picture book. So the more I learn about illustration, the more I feel I can appreciate and understand it in its own right.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Current Events & Children's Lit: Sharing Two Book Lists

I don't really talk politics here. And if I'm perfectly honest, I'm pretty sick of politics lately. I both do and don't want to stick my head in the sand. I want to be informed and involved, but it's all pretty overwhelming. And I know it's a privilege to just feel overwhelmed and take a break or tune it out because I am not directly affected by a lot of what has been happening lately. I am not afraid for my life or my family's lives, I'm not worried about getting deported, and I am not the target of hate crimes or hate speech. I don't always know the right thing to do in response to everything happening in my country right now. In fact, I hardly ever know the right thing to do, but there is one thing I know I can do: read. It doesn't feel like enough, but it still feels important. There are a multitude of issues we can be reading up on, but two related posts showed up in my blog feed yesterday I wanted to share:


The first is from a new-to-me children's literature blog I've really been loving called Orange Marmalade. The beginning of the post is so thoughtful and spot-on, and it is followed by a recommended reading list. I have only read two books on her list, but will definitely be reading more. Good children's books excel at expanding our worlds and our hearts, teaching us about other people, helping us metaphorically walk in another person's shoes, and grow in empathy -- no matter how old we are. So it's no surprise the other post was also on a children's blog -- a commercial one, but one I'm a fan of and read regularly nonetheless -- BN KIDS. Of course there are lots of adult books relevant to the issues of our times, but I think great children's books have a knack for cutting to the heart of things.

If you've written or seen any other reading lists relating to current issues, particularly children's book lists, please share in the comments!