2017-09-01 / BookBag

The Art of the Picture Book

Anita Ditz | Schlow Centre Region Library

I have always loved children’s picture books. I’m sure every one of us can remember a favorite story that brings back the feel of childhood. In only 32 pages, children’s authors and illustrators create worlds that expand a child’s imagination and lay the groundwork to create a lifelong reader. Sharing a picture book with a child is also a great way to spend special time and create a bond that leads to great conversations and lots of Q&A opportunities. The art found in children’s picture books spans the gamut from line drawings to watercolors to collage — even papermaking. These books definitely provide a foundation for art appreciation. Here are four of my favorite artists who have created books that have become childhood classics.

Where the Wild Things Are
by Maurice Sendak
This book has become a staple of children’s libraries and conveys a child’s imaginative way of dealing with being disciplined. Sendak has been credited with changing how people view childhood. Parenting magazine recognized him as “indisputably, the most revolutionary force in children’s books.” The art of Maurice Sendak has also enhanced books written by many authors including Isaac Bashevis Singer and Else Minarik’s Little Bear books.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar
by Eric Carle
The vibrant art of Eric Carle is easily recognizable and has even spawned a fabric series that make great wall hangings or quilts for a child’s room. This is one of my favorites — in a short picture book, Carle shares counting, days of the week and the stages of a butterfly’s life. Carle has written more than 60 books that exhibit his distinctive collage style.

Blueberries for Sal
by Robert McCloskey
While Sal and her mother are blueberry picking, Sal concentrates on eating and loses sight of her mother. Coincidentally, a young bear cub, intent on devouring blueberries, becomes separated from his mother. The vivid line drawings convincingly depict the surprise when cub and girl encounter each other among the blueberry bushes. Make Way for Ducklings is another Caldecott childhood classic written by McCloskey.

The Snowy Day
by Ezra Jack Keats
This is another book that every parent should share with his or her child. It tells the story of a boy named Peter as he explores his neighborhood after the first snowfall of the season. This is the first book that Keats both authored and illustrated and was a benchmark for depicting the first African-American protagonist in a full-color picture book.

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