I spent two and a half hours at my local library with my daughter the other day, and while she entertained herself playing in the “kitchen” in the children’s section, I needed something to pass my time besides waiting for my crops to harvest in my Smurf’s Village. So I grabbed about ten children’s books – not the chapter kind, but the picture kind – and started reading. And I discovered something.
There are some amazing children’s illustrators out there.
Seriously, some of the books I read could practically be up on the wall at an art gallery, they were that good. And chances are the kid or the parent reading that book doesn’t even notice the art, let alone notice who created that art. But I thought I would give some credit where credit is due. They deserve a lot more than just being shoved in the wall at some library.
This illustrator is hands down one of my new favorites. She illustrated a book called Phileas’s Fortune, and while the story itself is sweet and original, her illustrations are gorgeous. I was almost tempted to check out the book and then “lose it” so I could tear the pages out and put them on the wall. She also does prints and cards and random art that tends to pop up in stores every now and then.
Lane Smith has actually illustrated a ton of books, some of which you may have read before (does The Stinky Cheese Man ring a bell?) He’s done a lot of collaboration with author Jon Scieszka, but he’s also done things on his own. Whatever he does, it’s always amazing.
Mary Blair is actually more famous for working for Walt Disney back in the 1940s and 1950s, including her work on Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, and Peter Pan, not to mention creating the entire look for the It’s A Small World ride at Disneyland. But her art has been used in retellings of Cinderella and Alice, which bring so much more to those familiar stories.
Lois Lenski is no longer with us, but she did a ton of children’s illustrations back in the day, as well as a lot of her own writing. She even won a Newbury Medal in 1945 for writing and illustrating the book Strawberry Girl. Her illustrations are simple, but so comforting to look at. I would seriously wallpaper my kid’s entire room in her illustrations.
I literally just discovered this guy about thirty seconds ago, and I’m in love. He wrote and illustrated a book called Cherry and Olive, which sounds like a bit of a tearjerker of a story, but his illustrations are nothing to cry over. Unless you cry when you see beautiful things, in which you should proceed to grab a tissue.
Beth Krommes reminds me a bit of Lois Lenski in her style, which is made up of lots of lines mostly done in black and white. But just because they’re simple doesn’t mean they’re not rich in detail, because her illustrations are insanely detailed. Take a look.
I first noticed Alison Jay when I read the book The Goose Girl. It’s not a picture book, but she illustrated the cover, along with the other four books in the series. Then I discovered that she also illustrated children’s books, including some board books intended for kids under the age of three. But that doesn’t mean that adults can’t appreciate their beauty.
So the next time you’re reading books with your child, don’t just read the words. Take a look at the illustrations. Take a look at the illustrator. They might just be the one who creates the next work of art you put on your wall.