Saturday, November 9, 2013

Picture Book Influences: Old and New

Bright and Early Books, delivered right to my house
I loved to read as a child. My books were bought from book clubs and grocery stores. My library consisted of  Bright & Early Books, Berenstain Bears, and Little Golden Books. Nevertheless, some of the greatest illustrators of all time made their way into my consciousness. In my tween years, illustration drew me into the world of picture books, a fairy-land which I have never left.

For the remainder of Picture Book Month, I'd like to highlight illustrators who literally changed my life. 
First, a few of those early influences whose classic illustrations still move readers today. 
Next spotlighting some artists who I idolized as a youth. 
Lastly adding a few of their modern counterparts, illustrators whose work touches me in the same way as those early masters. 

I hope you rediscover some old favorites and uncover some new sources of inspiration.

The Berenstain Bears Books arrived at my house with some regularity through a book club in the early 70's. I loved the energy in the drawings and the clues that were often found before or after the action. These books taught me the importance of the page turn, the "space between."*

The Bears' Almanac sparked
my early love of non-fiction
I couldn't get enough of the clever hats in Old Hat, New Hat
A simple example of the illustration
giving a clue to what is to come, from Bears' Vacation.
* Thanks to Dianne de las Casas

Trina Schart Hyman, as Bookish Ambition regulars will know, was my inspiration, my hero, my ideal. From the early exposure through Cricket's Choice, to the award winners of the 80's, my admiration for her skill grew into obsession. I finally had the bright idea to write her a letter. I'm not sure how many hands it passed through until it got to her, but I do know that sometime after I'd given up hope, a card arrived from the artist herself, crystallizing my determination to be an illustrator when I grew up.
Trina Schart Hyman from Cricket Vol. 7 No. 6, 1980

By Barbara Rogasky,
mentioned pre-publication
 in the letter from Trina





Perhaps my favorite Hyman find
Interior art from A Hidden Magic,
by Vivian Vande Velde























Last but not least is Marla Frazee. My adult obsessions are more to do with the longing I feel, than the desire to imitate, but if I could be Marla, I would.
When I saw Clementine, I thought, "Who IS this charming illustrator?" When I read Rollercoaster, I smiled broadly. And when I purchased All the World,  I sighed in utter contentment. Here is an illustrator with the clues and secondary storylines of the Berenstains, the details and character draftsmanship of Trina Schart Hyman. It is the quality of her art, and the indefinable emotion it stirs in me, that I aspire to.
A great book series,
 by Sara Pennypacker
A sketch of the characters from Rollercoaster!
All the World, by Liz Garton Scanlon and Marla Frazee

Who influences you? Who informs your style of illustration? Who makes you want to sit and stare into the pages of a book?

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