This gorgeous collection of art (and the artists behind it) includes work by some of the world's most renowned children's book illustrators—Mitsumasa Anno, Quentin Blake, Ashley Bryan, Nancy Ekholm Burkert, Eric Carle, Tomie dePaola, Jane Dyer, Mordicai Gerstein, Robert Ingpen, Steven Kellogg, Leo Lionni, Petra Mathers, Wendell Minor, Barry Moser, Jerry Pinkney, Alice Provenson, Robert Sabuda, Matthew Reinhart, Maurice Sendak, Gennady Spirin, Chris Van Allsburg, Rosemary Wells, and Paul O. Zelinsky.
It's a remarkable and beautiful anthology that features twenty-three of the most honored and beloved artists in children’s literature, talking informally to children—sharing secrets about their art and how they began their adventures into illustration. Fold-out pages featuring photographs of their early work, their studios and materials, as well as sketches and finished art create an exuberant feast for the eye that will attract both children and adults.
Self-portraits of each illustrator crown this important anthology that celebrates the artists and the art of the picture book. An event book for the ages.
Proceeds from the book will benefit the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, MA.
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I have loved picture books ever since I was a child. The illustrations of Beatrix Potter and N. C. Wyeth were early favorites, and I always found any kind of animal story irresistible. I was an enthusiastic young artist as well, and I formulated pre-school plans to make drawing the center of my lifetime career. I used to dream up stories and illustrate them for my younger sisters, Patti and Martha. We called the activity: "Telling Stories on Paper." When it took place, I would sit between them with a stack of paper on my lap and a pencil in my hand, rattling off tales and scribbling illustrations to accompany them, and passing the pictures first to one of the girls and then to the other. I enjoyed these storytelling sessions enormously and I usually persevered until my sisters were too restless to sit there any longer, or until they were buried under pieces ofpaper.
I scribbled my way through elementary, junior- and senior-high school, and afterward I attended the Rhode Island School of Design, where I majored in illustration, and where I was particularly intrigued by the few projects we were given that related to the creation of picture books. I wasfortunate enough to win a fellowship that made possible a senior year of work and study in Florence, Italy. It was an exciting and fulfilling period for me, and I find that I draw constantly on the experience and images that I stored during my time there.
Upon my return to the United States I did some graduate work and teaching at American University, and at the same time I began submitting picture book ideas to various publishers. Itwas an exciting moment when the first acceptances came in, and I realized that I would be able to "tell stories on paper" full-time and to a much larger audience. I loved the challenge of putting the first books together, guiding them through the various stages of the publishing process, and thenwatching them disperse into the lives of their readers. And now, twenty-five years and almost ninety books later, I still find every aspect of my involvement just as absorbing andenjoyable.
During the time that I've been working on the picture books, I've lived in an old farmhouse in the hills of Connecticut which I've shared with my wife, Helen, and where I've raised six stepchildren, to whom most of my books are dedicated. Also in residence have been numerous dogs and cats, including a beloved harlequin Great Dane named Pinkerton, whose stubborn inadaptability during puppyhood inspired the book Pinkerton, Behave! The heroine of the sequel, ARose for Pinkerton, was our senior cat, Secondhand Rose, an independent old grouch who was born a wild thing in the Catskill Mountains, and who devoted her long life to harassing everyone in the world, including Pinkerton.
The ideas for the other books come from lots of different sources, but most of them have their roots in feelings and images that I retain from my own childhood. I try to blend illustrations and the words so that each book is a feast for the eye and ear. I want the time that the reader shares with me and my work to be an enjoyable experience -- one that will encourage a lifetimeassociation with pictures, words, and books.
Steven Kellogg talks about the art of the picturebook
The picture book is an art form that is designed specifically for children, but I feel that it can be appreciated and enjoyed by all ages. For centuries a distinguished tradition of illustrated books and manuscripts has existed of which the picture book is a part. It is a synthesis of literature and the visual arts, and the relationship of the written word and the picture is its essence.I am fascinated by the ways in which the picture book can borrow and combine diverse elements from other art forms to achieve startling and moving effects.
The turning page, for example, gives the illustrator the chance to utilize the elements of surprise to advance the movement of the story, and to deepen the involvement of the viewer in much the same way that the theatrical director uses the revolving stages or the rising curtain between thescenes and acts of a play.
An awareness of movement is extremely important in the conception of a picture book. My favorite illustrators delineate their characters so that animation is implied. The individual spreads are designed so that they crackle with graphic vitality. The characters seem to speak, cavort, andleap from the page so energetically that their life and movement are totally convincing. The moving qualities of each picture are heightened by the placement of the turning pages within the unfolding narrative and by the conception of the book as a whole. It is here that one sees the relationship between the arts of picture book design and filmmaking, as both of them deal with thephenomenon of "moving pictures."
No one will deny that language can be musical, and certainly visual images can suggest different forms of music by the feelings that they convey. The musical qualities of the pictures and the words can be orchestrated by the artist as he moves them across the pages of the book. Rhythms and harmonies can be established on some spreads, and atonal effects or dissonances can be introduced on others.
There are limitless possibilities available to the artist, who sets up relationships and tensionsbetween the illustrations and the text, allowing magical discoveries and subtle revelations to emerge in the areas between. When this happens, there is an uncanny fusion of all the elements,and the dynamic new expression that is created introduces young readers to the world of art.
copyright © 2000 by Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers. All rights reserved.
Quentin Blake lives and works in London, Hastings, and the South West of France. He first had drawings published when he was still at school. He has worked on over 200 books, sometimes as illustrator and sometimes as the writer too. In 1999, with the help of children from over 24 schools all over Britain, Quentin was selected to be the first Children's Laureate. The children submitted a long list of questions for Quentin, here are his answers to a few of them.
"Your illustrations are very recognizable. What made you illustrate the way you do?"
"I am not really quite sure why I draw the way I do. It may be because I didn’t go to an art school, except for part-time lessons when I was already over twenty. But I don’t think that can be the whole explanation. It’s a kind of handwriting, and it does actually look rather like my handwriting."
"Did you first start to like books because of the words or the pictures? Do you like writing as much as drawing and painting? In Clown you didn’t use words at all. Do you think stories can be told as well without words?"
"I also enjoy writing words; though I think that sometimes it’s possible to tell a story entirely in pictures, as in Clown. One interesting thing about that is that it gives the reader the opportunity to invent words and I think it encourages you to think about, and perhaps discuss, what actually is going on and what the characters are thinking and feeling."
"When we read we make up pictures in our heads. Do you think having lots of pictures in a book helps that or stops it happening?"
"This raises a very interesting question. With my pictures, what I hope is that it encourages the reader to imagine more pictures of his own. But sometimes what the writer is putting into your head is so rich and visual that much in the way of illustration is superfluous. Probably you know the answer to this question (though I don’t think there is only one answer) better than I do."
"How did you feel when they announced the winner of the Children’s Laureate? Will it help your work or get in the way? What do you want to be able to do now that you are Children’s Laureate?"
"When I was told that I was winner of the Children’s Laureate I experienced quite a variety of thoughts and feelings. It was very gratifying to think that a lot of people (like you) really did like what I had done - it was an unmistakable sign of something that it is very difficult to imagine from inside yourself. At the same time I was aware of the problem (so are the organisers of the Laureateship) that, if I am not careful, it might distract me from the work of creating more books, which is what I do best. However, for a long time I was a teacher of illustration at The Royal College of Art, so I know something about how to do two jobs at once; and I hope that during my two years I shall be offered, or find, ways to encourage people to discuss words and pictures and the way they go together; and generally to rate children’s books at their true value."
"Have you any advice you can give us?"
"Well, difficult; because everyone is different. But I do know that, whether it is writing or drawing, you have to do a lot of it, and keep on doing it - that is the way to improvement. And don’t wait for inspiration, just start. Inspiration is some mysterious blessing which happens when the wheels are turning smoothly."
"At the moment I am at work on a book about my work and the way I do it. When it comes out - it won’t be before September 2000, I’m afraid - you may find in it more extended answers to your questions; I will try to make sure they are there!"
Quentin Blake has illustrated many of Roald Dahl's books, in addition to other books for children. He lives in London, England.
Eric Carle is acclaimed and beloved as the creator of brilliantly illustrated and innovatively designed picture books for very young children. His best-known work, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, has eaten its way into the hearts of literally millions of children all over the world and has been translated into more than 25 languages and sold over twelve million copies. Since the Caterpillar was published in 1969, Eric Carle has illustrated more than sixty books, many best sellers, most of which he also wrote.
Born in Syracuse, New York, in 1929, Eric Carle moved with his parents to Germany when he was six years old; he was educated there, and graduated from the prestigious art school, the Akademie der bildenden Kunste, in Stuttgart. But his dream was always to return to America, the land of his happiest childhood memories. So, in 1952, with a fine portfolio in hand and forty dollars in his pocket, he arrived in New York. Soon he found a job as a graphic designer in the promotion department of The New York Times. Later, he was the art director of an advertising agency for many years.
One day, respected educator and author, Bill Martin Jr, called to ask Carle to illustrate a story he had written. Martin's eye had been caught by a striking picture of a red lobster that Carle had created for an advertisement. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? was the result of their collaboration. It is still a favorite with children everywhere. This was the beginning of Eric Carle's true career. Soon Carle was writing his own stories, too. His first wholly original book was 1,2,3 to the Zoo, followed soon afterward by the celebrated classic, The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
Eric Carle's art is distinctive and instantly recognizable. His art work is created in collage technique, using hand-painted papers, which he cuts and layers to form bright and cheerful images. Many of his books have an added dimension - die-cut pages, twinkling lights as in The Very Lonely Firefly, even the lifelike sound of a cricket's song as in The Very Quiet Cricket - giving them a playful quality: a toy that can be read, a book that can be touched. Children also enjoy working in collage and many send him pictures they have made themselves, inspired by his illustrations. He receives hundreds of letters each week from his young admirers. The secret of Eric Carle's books' appeal lies in his intuitive understanding of and respect for children, who sense in him instinctively someone who shares their most cherished thoughts and emotions.
The themes of his stories are usually drawn from his extensive knowledge and love of nature - an interest shared by most small children. Besides being beautiful and entertaining, his books always offer the child the opportunity to learn something about the world around them. It is his concern for children, for their feelings and their inquisitiveness, for their creativity and their intellectual growth that, in addition to his beautiful artwork, makes the reading of his books such a stimulating and lasting experience.
Carle says: "With many of my books I attempt to bridge the gap between the home and school. To me home represents, or should represent; warmth, security, toys, holding hands, being held. School is a strange and new place for a child. Will it be a happy place? There are new people, a teacher, classmates - will they be friendly? I believe the passage from home to school is the second biggest trauma of childhood; the first is, of course, being born. Indeed, in both cases we leave a place of warmth and protection for one that is unknown. The unknown often brings fear with it. In my books I try to counteract this fear, to replace it with a positive message. I believe that children are naturally creative and eager to learn. I want to show them that learning is really both fascinating and fun."
Eric Carle has two grown-up children, a son and a daughter. With his wife Barbara, he lives in Northampton, Massachusetts. The Carles spend their summers in the nearby Berkshire hills.
copyright © 2000 by Penguin Group (USA) Books for Young Readers. All rights reserved.
Tomie dePaola was born in Meriden, Connecticut, in 1934 to a family of Irish and Italian background. By the time he could hold a pencil, he knew what his life's work would be. His determination to create books for children led to a BFA from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, and an MFA from the California College of Arts & Crafts in Oakland, California.
It drove him through the years of teaching, designing greeting cards and stage sets, and painting church murals until 1965, when he illustrated his first children's book, Sound, by Lisa Miller for Coward-McCann. Eventually, freed of other obligations, he plunged full time into both writing and illustrating children's books.
He names Fra Angelico and Giotto, Georges Rouault, and Ben Shahn as major influences on his work, but he soon found his own unique style. His particular way with color, line, detail, and design have earned him many of the most prestigious awards in his field, among them a Caldecott Honor Award for Strega Nona, the Smithsonian Medal from the Smithsonian Institution, the Kerlan Award from the University of Minnesota for his "singular attainment in children's literature," the Catholic Library Association's Regina Medal for his "continued distinguished contribution," and the University of Southern Mississippi Medallion. He was also the 1990 United States nominee for the Hans Christian Andersen Medal for illustration.
Tomie dePaola has published almost 200 children's books in fifteen different countries. He remains one of the most popular creators of books for children, receiving more than 100,000 fan letters each year.
Tomie lives in an in...Review:
The title says it all in this anthology of inspirational letters written by 23 contemporary children’s-book illustrators to future artists. A multicultural group with amazingly diverse artistic styles, the featured illustrators are some of the best-known and celebrated in the genre, including Mitsumasa Anno, Quentin Blake, Nancy Ekholm Burkert, Eric Carle, Tomie de Paola, Steve Kellogg, Leo Lionni, Petra Mathers, Barry Moser, Jerry Pinkney, Alice Provensen, Maurice Sendak, Chris Van Allsburg, Genady Spirin, Rosemary Wells and Paul O. Zelinksy. Their diversity shines in the text of their letters, in which they share childhood stories, sources of inspiration, views on art, details of how they work and advice on becoming an artist. Opposite each illustrator’s letter, a nifty fold-out page presents a montage of “images, art, works-in-progress, photographs of studios and work spaces as well as each artist’s wonderful self-portrait.” Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart’s collaborative self-portrait appropriately resides in one of their pop-ups. Fun to read and view, this anthology is a treasure trove of creative insight and inspiration. Perfect for libraries, art teachers, budding artists and fans of children’s-book illustration. —Kirkus, starred review
This anthology celebrates and elucidates contemporary picture-book art, particularly that which has been exhibited at the Eric Carle Museum. An introduction (and entry) is penned by Carle himself; an afterword from the museum director highlights the institution’s mission of nurturing young artists. Ashley Bryan, Quentin Blake, Leo Lionni, Alice Provensen, and Gennady Spirin are among the contributors, whose comments are formatted as signed letters, illustrated with childhood photographs. The missives speak of early stirrings of creativity, struggles with school, the importance of mentors, the joy of living a passion. Each artist includes glorious self-portraits and a gatefold page that reveals a marvelous array of sketches, color mixes, and studio scenes. All readers will find something that piques curiosity or provides insight: a page from Tomie dePaola’s first picture book (1965); Jerry Pinkney’s cowboy model and horse substitute; Paul Zelinsky’s sequential panels depicting the Renaissance-inspired technique used for Rapunzel and his portrait. While there is some overlap with Pat Cummings’s “Talking with Artists” series (S & S), there are no framing questions, so the illustrators ruminate freely. Sendak writes about finding “a space in the text so that the pictures can do the work.” Sabuda (whose portrait is a pop-up) envisions a “dance across the page.” Brief biographies and bibliographies conclude the title. A selective work, by nature, results in omissions, and there are some surprising absences. Yet, the end result is a gorgeous, browsable gallery of international treasures, with a behind-the-scenes tour led by the generous and gifted creators themselves. —School Library Journal
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