Children's Book Illustrators Bring the Magic To Life
As children, it is a wonderful thing when we find the magical world of books and written stories. The words of these fabulous fantasies fill our minds with wonder, but it is not just the words that spur our imagination. Children's books almost always include beautiful illustrations that help young minds find their way into the treasured tales.
Sometimes these illustrations are stark and simple while at other times they are more elaborate, more like little works of art. Often these pictures are created by the same person who writes the words, but sometimes this is not the case. Either way, it is well worth taking a look at those artists who are so involved in bringing our young imaginations to life.
The first illustrator I will mention is Jan Brett, the award-winning author and illustrator of more than twenty children's books including The Mitten, The Three Snow Bears, Annie and the Wild Animals, The Hat, and Gingerbread Baby. But my personal favorites are the adventures she weaves for a friendly hedgehog named Hedgie. Hedgie has been featured in two books, Hedgie's Surprise in 2002 and Hedgie Blasts Off! in 2006. Both are wonderful but I must admit that the latter appeals to the adventurous child in me.
It is really no surprise that Ms. Brett has won over 50 awards related to her writing and illustrating children's books. She has had works recognized as "Best Children's Books of the Year" by major magazines like Newsweek and Redbook and she was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005 by the Boston Public Library.
Jan Brett has a wonderful website that features around 4800 coloring and activity pages for youngsters that can be downloaded and printed for free! Of course you can also find plenty of information on her latest work as well as the many classics she has been involved with. There are links to Jan's blog where she keeps her many fans up to date on her activities. She also has videos about learning to draw and contests with unique prizes like personal appearances and handcrafted collectibles. Truly a great website from a great illustrator!
Jack Kent (1920–1985) wrote and illustrated forty wonderful children's books including Just Only John , Socks for Supper , The Wizard of Wallaby Wallow , The Biggest Shadow in the Zoo , The Scribble Book and Mr. Meebles . He also illustrated more than twenty books for other authors such as Ruth Belov Gross, Beatrice Schenk de Regniers, Jane Yolen and Bonnie Bishop. Mr. Kent first gained widespread attention with a comic strip that was syndicated and distributed internationally from 1950 to 1965, King Aroo . He began writing and illustrating children's books in 1968 and continued until his death in 1985.
Alexandra Day is a writer and artist best known for her series of books about the adventures of a babysitting rottweiler named Carl. The Carl series includes over a dozen books and features stories for advanced young readers as well as younger children just learning to read. Carl began as a babysitter for his young mistress Madeleine, named after Alexandra Day's first granddaughter, but later took to caring for other young animals as well.
In addition to Carl, Ms. Day has written and illustrated wonderful books about Frank and Ernest, a bear and an elephant who substitute for business owners who must be away from their businesses for awhile. Some of her other spectacular works include Boswell Wide Awake , Puppy Trouble , Paddy's Pay-Day, a nd River Payday .She has also illustrated works by authors such as Joan Grant (The Blue Faience Hippopotamus ) and Ned Washington (When You Wish Upon a Star ).
Alexandra Day has won many awards including a lifetime acheievement award from the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association. And indeed she is deserving of this honor with her first book, The Teddy Bear's Picnic , having been published in 1983. The book, based on a children's song from the early 1900's was a big success and continues to sell well to this day. In addition to writing and illustrating books, Ms. Day also owns a publishing company with her husband with whom she has four children named after lesser known but well respected writers including a child named after the Bengali Poet Rabindranath Tagore.
Terry Denton is an Australian illustrator best known for working with popular children's author and fellow Australian Andy Griffiths. The two have collaborated on several books including the Just! series and the Bad Book series and most recently have worked together on the Andy and Terry's World of Stupidity series. Denton has also worked with authors Mem Fox, Natalie Jane Prior, and Gillian Rubinstein as well as his own books which be both writes and illustrates. His Gasp! series is being made into an animated television series and his Storymaze series offers young readers a mixture of comic books with novels and, of course, unlimited adventure.
Crockett Johnson (1906-1975) was another children's book author and illustrator who also gained fame as a comic strip creator. In his case, the comic strip was Barnaby that ran from 1942–1952 and from 1960–1962, though this revival series was redrawn by a new artist and references to World War II were removed from the strip. Johnson became popular as a writer and artist of children's books, most notably the series featuring Harold that began with Harold and the Purple Crayo n and went on to contain an additional six books. He wrote and illustrated over twenty books and illustrated several more including four written by his wife Ruth Krauss who was also a noted children's author.
These illustrators are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to children's books for younger readers. They, along with the hundreds of others who draw pictures for these books, are like bridges to the young child's imagination. Their beuatiful drawings and paintings open up the worlds inside the book and welcome the child to a life filled with adventure.
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