What Is a Good Book? The Pictures

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What Is a Good Book? The Pictures

James Jacobs and Michael Tunnel

In this age of visual bombardment—daily overloads of images on computer screens, in magazines, on television, at the movies, and along the roadside—do children need even more images in picture books? The answer is a resounding “Yes!” The problem is not having too much to see but learning to be discriminating w hat they see. We use the term visual literacy to describe this sort of discrimination. More than any other generation, today’s children need to develop discretion about what they view. Picture books are a perfect vehicle for opening a child’s eyes to the beauty and power of art because they do not function like other books, in which words alone tell a story or convey information.

Illustrations in the better picture books share the function of storytelling or concept teaching. In fact, in wordless picture books the illustrations do the whole job. So the pictures beg for active participation in their viewing, unlike so many of the random images that are flashed daily in front of us. Text and illustration weave together to communicate. To get the full measure of meaning and fulfillment from a good picture book, the reader must attend carefully to both (Kiefer 1995). Through the beautifully crafted picture books available today, young readers not only may become aware of the variety of artistic styles, media, and techniques that artists employ, but also may develop a sense for judging quality.

Developing the Ability to “See”

Adults tend to sell children short when it comes to their abilities to perceive the world. Both of us have heard our university students, who are, of course, adults, say such things as, “This artwork is too sophisticated for children. Won’t they OD on this?” One woman actually asked, “Why do they waste such great art on kids?” Truth be known, children are generally more visually aware and alert than most adults (McDermott 1974b). The older we get, the more our visual awareness is likely to be dulled by overload or by the real or imagined expectations our educational systems have imposed on us that alter the way we view images. Honest responses to art and other visual stimuli are programmed out of most children. They begin to ignore their own personal reactions and the fascinating detail in the art in order to second-guess their teachers’ agendas, thus becoming basically less aware. This process is not much different from analyzing poetry with children until the beauty is beaten out of it.

As we have read to children over the years, they have shown us detail in picture book illustrations that our supposedly sophisticated adult eyes overlooked. For example, we had read On Market Sweet (Lobe1 1981) many times, but had not noticed that the figure representing T for toys in this alphabet book had on her hands puppets of the immensely popular Frog and Toad characters. That is, we did not notice them until a child pointed them out. Frog and Toad were made famous in Newbery and Caldecott Honor books created by Arnold Lobel-husband of Anita Lobel, who illustrated On Market Street. Children have shown us that the church tower clock in each illustration in Anno’s Counting Book (Anno 1977) always points to the hour that corresponds with the number being presented. Gerald McDermott has observed that younger children, when reading Arrow to the Sun (McDermott 1974a), notice the sun symbol on the chest of the Sun God’s child, an obvious visual link between father and son. However, McDermott (1974b) points out that older children tend not recognize the Pueblo boy’s emblem.

Illustration in picture books is meant to delight, to capture attention, to tell a story or teach a concept, and to develop appreciation and awareness in children. Of course, appreciation is developed in part by consistent exposure to the wonderful varieties of art that are coupled with pleasing stories in today’s picture books. Young children begin to sense something special in good art when they see lots of it. For example, Quincy had seen many fine picture books in his short six years. When he was listening to a new book, 17 Kings and 42 Elephants (Mahy 1987), which has jewel-like batik on silk paintings by Patricia McCarthy, he suddenly interrupted to say, “Dad, these pictures are marvelous!” “Marvelous” was a bit unexpected coming from such a little body, but more amazing was his evaluative response to the artwork. Quincy didn’t have the understanding or the words to analyze McCarthy’s work, but he simply knew it was good stuff. How did he know? Because he’d seen so many picture books that he’d developed a level of appreciation that governed his taste in illustrations. Taste and appreciation come by experience, by comparing a variety of examples. Taste is broadened and cultivated by exposure; it is narrowed or allowed to lay fallow by restricting experience. Indeed, if all that children see in the world of art are Saturday morning cartoons, then such will be the standard of art for them.
Functions of Illustrations in Picture Books

“The function of art is to clarify, intensify, or otherwise enlarge our experience of life” (Canady 1980). This statement is as true for picture book illustrations as it is for gallery paintings, but picture book artwork also must operate in a manner unique to its special format. Because picture books are made up of a series of illustrations that typically tell a story, the art may function in one or more of the following ways:

Establishing setting. Art is a natural for creating the setting in an illustrated book. Time periods in historical stories or far-flung cultural settings can be brought to life through illustrations in ways words cannot do. Look at The Fortune-Tellers (Alexander 1992) as an example. This is a universal story that could have been set in any number of places and times, but Trina Schart Hyman’s illustrations allow the story to spring suddenly into a certain place and time-the west African country of Cameroon in what Hyman calls “the fantastical present” (Hyman 1995). The handsome people in rainbow-colored costume and the crisp, highly detailed surroundings create a idyllic, slightly larger-than-life backdrop for Alexander’s literary folktale. (See Illustration 1.)

Define and develop characters. Artists can give characters an extra fleshing out through illustrations. Through the artwork in Ira Sleeps Over (Waber 1972), for example, we learn much about Ira’s parents that is not revealed in the text. We see his parents’ interesting and somewhat untraditional lifestyle, especially for the time when the book was published. For instance, in one illustration Ira’s father is cooking dinner, in another he is playing the bass. Frog Goes to Dinner (Mayer 1974), a wordless picture book, relies completely on illustrations to define and develop the characters. Mayer is a marvel when it comes to using facial expressions to communicate what his characters are feeling. Note the double-page illustration of the angry family driving home after they have been thrown out of Fancy Restaurant. Each family member harbors an individual response to the disaster. (See Illustration 2.)

Reinforce text. The primary function of some picture book illustrations is to reinforce the text. Nonfiction picture books often fill into this category, with the illustrations and diagrams restating visually what the words say. For instance, Steven Kellogg’s illustrations for How Much Is a Million? (Schwartz 1985) reinforce the concept of large numbers. For text that reads, “If a billion kids made a human tower . . . they would stand up past the moon,” the accompanying illustration shows the top of a stack of happy children with the lunar landscape in the background. The topmost children are holding a banner that reads “1,000,000,000 KIDS.”

Illustrations in a picture storybook also may function primarily to reinforce the story. In the ever popular Blueberries for Sal (McCloskey 1948), for example, readers see what the text describes—the countryside in Maine as well as the characters who are out picking blueberries—but no major extensions to the text are evident.

Provide a different viewpoint. One of the most enjoyable ways in which illustrations may function in a picture book is that of telling a story different from the text or even being in opposition to the words. In Rosie’s Walk (Hutchins 1968), the text says that Rosie the hen takes a peaceful stroll around the firm and gets “back in time for dinner.” However, the illustrations tell another tale: A fox, never mentioned in the narrative, lurks behind Rosie every step of the way, but is somehow frustrated every time it pounces forward to make Rosie its dinner. (See Illustration 3.) Peter Spier’s Oh, Were They Ever Happy (1978) is an example of words and text that are humorously in opposition to one another. Children inadvertently left alone for the day (the baby-sitter has her days confused and doesn’t show) decide to do something nice for their parents—paint the house. The words say “Neat job and “Pretty color!” while the illustrations show what a horrible mess the kids are making. They paint the bricks and windowpanes; they finish one color of paint and take up another. Similarly, in Burningham’s Come Away from the Water, Shirley (1977), the only words come from Shirley’s parents, who nag her constantly to keep clean and stay safe during their day at the beach. In contrast, the illustrations show Shirley tuning out her parents’ admonitions while her imagination takes her on a seaside adventure battling pirates.

Provide interesting asides. Sometimes picture book illustrations are filled with interesting asides-subplots or details not necessarily related to the main story line. Many of Mitsumasa Anno’s books employ this technique. In the wordless picture book Anno’s Journey (Anno 1978), the main focus is a traveler whose journey takes him on horseback through the countryside, towns, and cities of historical Europe. A careful examination of the busy illustrations shows all sorts of wonderful surprises: fairy tale characters and famous historical figures blending into crowds of people, entertaining but brief human dramas such as a hotly contested foot race, and so on.
Extend or develop the plot. The plot of a story may be advanced by illustrations. In wordless picture books, the whole plot is unfolded through pictures. Sometimes the plot is merely extended or rounded a little by the illustrations, as in Stephen Gammell’s art in The Relatives Came (Rylant 1985). Gamrnell shows that one family’s journey to a family reunion is a bit perilous because Dad isn’t such a good driver. Although Rylant’s words say nothing about the driving, Dad levels the mailbox on the way out, loses suitcases, careens around mountain curves, and destroys their relatives’ fence upon arrival. (See Illustration 4.)

Establish mood. Illustrations are extremely effective in determining the mood of a picture storybook. The Polar Express (Van Allsburg 198 5) is a Christmas story, and Christmas stories typically use a bright and cheery palette. The mood in Van Allsburg’s story, however, is mysterious, and he uses dark colors to establish that mood. With muted reds and blues and even muted yellows along with plenty of black and brown, the artist creates an eerie atmosphere as a young boy watches a magical train steam its way into his front yard late Christmas Eve. The mood is maintained as the train whisks him and other children toward the North Pole, zipping past dark forests filled with wolves. (See Illustration 5.)
Style and Media in Picture Book Illustration
Artists are able to use a vast array of styles and media to create the illustrations in children’s books today, partly because the technology of camera color separations makes reproducing sophisticated artwork feasible. In fact, some of the best and most varied artwork being done today appears in picture books. We know a professional artist who regularly checks the children’s section at the public library to see what’s new in picture books because he believes the best contemporary work is to be found there.

Excellent artwork can, of course, be rendered in various styles, ranging from extremely realistic to abstract. Realism, or representational style, is a faithful reproduction of nature, people, and objects as they actually appear. The illustrations in Zelinsky’s Rapunzel (1997) are representational. (See Illustration 6.) Surrealism is realism skewed. It is an attempt to represent the workings of the unconscious mind by creating a dreamlike state, as in Clement’s The Voice of the Wood (1989). (See Illustration 7.) Expressionism, which is an attempt to give objective expression to inner experience, often makes use of bright colors and figures that are a bit disproportionate. This stylized form is evident in Williams’s A Chair for My Mother (1982). (See Illustration 8.) Another popular style is impressionism, which emphasizes light, movement, and usually color over detail. A fine example of impressionism is Lagarrigue’s art for Wiles’s Freedom Summer (2001). (See Illustration 9.) Naive is a style that gives the appearance of being childlike, perhaps lacking perspective or a sense of proportion. Barbara Cooney used a naïve style in her paintings for Hall’s Ox-Cart Man (1979). (See Illustration 10.) There are, of course, other artistic styles, including cartoon art, as found in James Stevenson’s That Terrible Halloween Night (1980). (See Illustration 11.)

The various styles artists use to create their artwork may be rendered in a variety of artistic media. There are basically two categories of media: painterly and graphic. Painterly media include the most common art materials, such as paint, pencil, and ink. In Rapunzel, Zelinsky used oil paints, an opaque layering of colors. (See Illustration 6.) Watercolors, which are translucent, were the medium for Stevenson’s paintings in That Terrible Halloween Night. (See Illustration 11.) Van Allsburg used graphite, or pencil, another painterly medium, in The Widow’s Brow (1992). (See Illustration 12.) Also in this category is pen and ink, which Isadora used in Ben’s Trumpet (1979). (See Illustration 13.) Other painterly media include colored pencils, pastels (chalk), charcoal, crayons, fit-tip markers, gouache (opaque, water-based paints), tempura (opaque water-based or egg yolk-based paints) and acrylics (plastic paints).

Artists apply painterly media directly to canvas, paper, or some other surface. But when artists use graphic media, they generally create the artwork elsewhere before applying it to the final surface. With woodcuts, for instance, the artist carves images in relief into a block of wood. Then inks or paints are applied to the wood and transferred to a surface, such as paper. Marcia Brown’s illustrations for Once a Mouse . . . (1961) are woodcuts. (See Illustration 14); notice the wood grain.) Linoleum cuts are similar in technique to woodcuts, but they produce a cleaner line, as in Mary Wormell’s Hilda Hen’s Scary Night (1996). (See Illustration 15.) Collage, another popular graphic technique, involves cutting and tearing shapes from paper or fabric and arranging them on the page, as in Keats’s The Snowy Day (1962). (See Illustration 16.) Collage may also include other objects that are attached to the surface, like the breakfast cereal and wire hangers in Diaz’s illustrations for Bunting’s Smoky Night (1994). David Wisniewski’s dramatic illustrations in Golem (1996), created by overlaying intricate paper cutouts, are a sophisticated

form of collage. (See Illustration 31.) Stone lithography is an engraving on stone that is printed on paper, such as the illustrations for the 1939 edition of Abraham Lincoln by Ingri and Edgar d’Aulaire. (See Illustration 17.) A graphic medium that looks a bit like pen-and-ink drawings is called scratchboard. A black ink coating is scratched away to show the white surface beneath; color may be added after the “drawing” is complete, as in The Faithful Friend (San Souci 1995), illustrated by Brian Pinkney. (See Illustration 18.) Even photocopy can be considered a graphic technique. Bruce McMillan’s Mouse Views: What the Class Pet Saw (1993) uses color photography to give children a fresh look at their world. (See Illustration 19.) Also, artists will often mix media, using both graphic and painterly techniques together. A prime example is Molly Bang’s The Paper Crane (1985), which uses three-dimensional paper cutouts, traditional collage, and painterly techniques. Each page was then photographed to retain its three-dimensional quality. (See Illustration 20.)

Visual Elements
Like all artists, picture book illustrators incorporate several visual elements into the creation of their pictures that subtly affect the way we respond to the art. These elements are line, shape, color, texture, and composition.
Lines. Lines in illustrations are either curved or straight. These lines may vary in thickness or length. They may run horizontally, diagonally, or vertically. They may be solid or broken. How line is used often plays an important role in what a picture communicates. For instance, diagonal lines suggest movement (slant of the road in Illustration 4 and of the keyboard in Illustration 13). The dominant vertical lines of the trees in Illustration 5, from Van Allsburg’s Polar Express, create a static look, as if this scene were a photograph capturing and arresting a moment in the flow of action. On the other hand, horizontal lines may suggest order or tranquility.

Artists also use line to h e c t the viewer’s eye. Le Cain’s use of line in the Grimm Brothers’ Thorn Rose (1975) focuses the eye upon the ominous tower holding the only remaining spinning wheel. The lines created by a wall, row of windows, roof line, and balustrade lead to the upper right-hand corner and seem to converge at the tower. Even the fountain and the horizon point the way. In this manner, Le Cain guides our viewing of his painting. (See Illustration 26.)

Shape. Shape is the two-dimensional form representing an object. Shapes may be simple or complex. The objects may be readily recognizable or so abstract as to be difficult to recognize. Curved shapes generally suggest things found in nature, and angular shapes depict objects built by humans. For example, the illustration from Round Trip by Ann Jonas (1983) shows from one perspective people sitting in a movie theater. Neither the theater nor the humans are clearly recognizable; they are only suggested by the shapes. The human-made items (seats, lights, screen) are angular forms, while the people are suggested by rounded forms representing heads. (See Illustration 28.)

Color. Color is a visual element with the traits hue, value, and saturation. Hue is simply the color itself (red, blue, yellow), and these hues are often categorized as being either cool (blue, green, violet) or warm (red, yellow, orange). The scene by LeCain (Illustration 24) uses reds, yellows, and oranges predominately to create the impression of a hot, bustling kitchen. Value is the lightness or darkness of the color (dark blue, light green), achieved by adding black or white to the hue. As discussed earlier in this chapter, the mood of a picture may be manipulated by value, as in the mysterious mood achieved by the dark palette Van Allsburg used in Polar Express (Illustration 5). Finally, saturation, or chroma, is the brightness or dullness of a color.

For example, the brightness of the colors in the picture from The Fortune-Tellers (Illustration 1) creates a festive atmosphere, while the muted hues in Illustration 29 add an appropriately ancient feeling to the story of Saint George and the Dragon (Hodges 1984). Illustrations also may be achromatic, rendered in only black, white, and the various shades of gray in between. (See Illustrations 2 and 13.) Monochromatic illustrations use only one hue, such as the different values of brown in The Widow’s Broom by Chris Van Allsburg (Illustration 12).

Texture. Texture is a tactile sensation communicated by the artist: rough, smooth, hard, soft, and so on. Collage, as discussed earlier, is the most obvious way of creating texture in illustrations because of its three-dimensional qualities. The cutout crane in Illustration 20, for instance, dearly has the sharp edges of a folded paper bird. However, illustrators most often create a sense of texture on a two-dimensional surface, as with the fabric of the automobile seats in Illustration 2. Mercer Mayer used crosshatching (the crossing of lines) to produce the coarse texture of the material in both the seats and the boy’s suit.

Composition. Composition is the visual element that serves to unify all of the elements in an illustration.
In arranging the elements on each page, including the printed type, the artist tries to obtain an effective balance between unity and variety and creates visual patterns that may be carried on from page to page. (Kiefer 1995, p. 129)
For example, an artist may balance objects in an illustration, either by distributing them evenly (symmetrically) or irregularly (asymmetrically). In Illustration 22, David Wiesner splits the picture evenly down the center from top to bottom. The backgrounds of both sides are balanced asymmetrically by the careful yet irregular placement of vehicles and people, yet the clouds in the sky (which look like frogs) are symmetric. Another facet of composition concerns object dominance. Artists can ensure that certain shapes are dominant by making them larger or brighter in order to attract the eye. In Illustration 22, the police detective in the foreground is larger than any other individual and thus is the dominant figure. In this way, Wiesner directs the viewer’s attention to the detective’s actions.
Further Evaluating Children’s Book Illustration

According to Ciandolo (1976, p. 9), in quality picture book art “something of significance is said.” In inferior picture books, the art all begins to look the same—flat line and color washes, as in books like the Sesame Street titles and most things from Disney (Hearne 1990). In other words, quality picture book art is individual and unique. Stereotypical artwork denies individuality, both in the artistic rendering and in the characters and settings represented. It is more difficult to relate to the human experience and to get involved with the story when the art depicts generic or stereotypical people and places. For example, I’m Glad I’m a Boy! I’m Glad I’m a Gird! (Darrow 1970) shows insipid girls and powerful boys who are devoid of other personality traits. The generic, flat line illustrations accompany text such as “Boys invent things. Girls use what boys invent.” Together, illustrations and text go beyond the uninspiring to drop negative stereotyping to a new low.

In better picture book illustrations, two basic elements tend to give individuality to the illustrations: action and detail. Action is important in picture storybooks in particular because the artwork moves the story along. Note the illustration from Deep in the Forest (Turkle 1976), a role-reversal version of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.” (See Illustration 21) This scene freezes the action at the climax, but the illustration is by no means static. The tilt of the human forms as they barrel forward in pursuit and the wide-eyed little bear with fully stretched body and churning legs create for us a true sense of the chaotic, frenzied chase. Sometimes action in illustrations is subtle but suggests a great deal of activity. For example, in Tuesday (Wiesner 1991), the police detective examines a lily pad suspended from a pencil, his quizzical look suggesting his mental activity. “Why and how?” he seems to ask himself, unable to fathom the hundreds of frogs who invaded the nighttime sanctity of his town on flying My pads. (See Illustration 22.) One of the ways picture book artists create tension in their work is by using illustrations to anticipate or foreshadow action. Look at the illustration from Rosie’s Walk (Hutchins 1968). (See Illustration 3.) Rosie, still unaware her life is in danger, is about to inadvertently foil another of the fox’s attempts to capture her. The rope coiled about her leg shows us what is to come.

Certainly it is not difficult to see that details in illustrations tend to give the artwork depth and allow artists to assert their individuality. Even the power of a carefully placed line can make loosely drawn pictures say volumes. Consider the illustration from Glen Rounds’s Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf (1992). (See Illustration 23.) Although the wolf is rather scratchily drawn, his raggedy appearance makes him look as if he’s fallen on hard times. The flowing lines give the wolf a fluid, shaky sense of movement, which seems to say “vagabond.”

Detail also may be evident in the use of perspective in many quality picture books.

In Le Cain’s version of the Grimm Brothers’ Thorn Rose (1975), the artist shows a single scene from two very different perspectives. When everyone in the castle falls asleep, one illustration looks past the cook (who is about to box the kitchen boy’s ears), out the kitchen door, and beyond horses sleeping in a stall. Later, when the prince finally arrives on the castle grounds, we are allowed to look past him, past the horses, and back into the kitchen to where the cook is slumped over a table. (See Illustrations 24 and 25.) This may seem a small thing, but such detail provides the setting with depth and makes it a believable place. Obviously, Le Cain envisioned this world carefully and translated his vision into illustrations that give us a sense of being there.

Le Cain also uses his illustrations in Thorn Rose to foreshadow most subtly the impending doom connected with the last spinning wheel to be found in the kingdom. (See Illustration 26.) In one painting, the artist shows Thorn Rose, now an adolescent, standing on a balcony walkway with a castle tower in the distance. The left side of the illustration is verdant; Thorn Rose is surrounded by flowering plants and peacocks, and. the sky is bright. However, as one’s eyes move across the painting toward the tower, the sky darkens ominously. The gardenlike surroundings of the castle give way to a foreboding, craggy appearance. A great serpent, a symbol of evil, is wound about the parapet leading to the tower, which has a rather dragonlike look. Of course, the tower holds the accursed spinning wheel. This visual foreshadowing creates an unconscious feeling of tension in the reader.

Careful attention to detail often requires extensive research before an artist begins work on the illustrations. Depending on the book, illustrators may spend untold hours investigating the historical details of h/ling Dynasty culture, the anatomy of wolves, or rain forest botany, for example. In Jarrell’s retelling of Sow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Grimm Brothers 1972), the artist, Nancy Ekholm Burkert, re-created the time period and cultural setting of the tale with accuracy. Even the illustration showing the evil queen’s laboratory is stunning in its detail. The accoutrements of black magic are displayed on a workbench; each herb and root is authentic and poisonous. (See Illustration 27.) Trina Schart Hyman’s illustrations for Saint George and the

Dragon (Hodges 1984) include drawings, primarily in borders surrounding the text, of plants and flowers indigenous to Britain during those magical times. In researching his book Make Way for Ducklings, Robert McCloskey (1941) filled notebooks with artistic studies of ducks-sketches of wing extensions and so on (Schmidt 1990). He even had ducks swimming in his bathtub and walking about his apartment to use as ready references. McCloskey (1965) points out that when he spends the time to examine a tree from twig to branch to & to root, the examination may not be apparent to the viewer of the artistically rendered tree, but the tree is better for his having thought of it in such detail.

Indeed, detail is often subtle. In fact, most artistic devices are like cosmetics; they must not be too noticeable or they are not doing their job. Makeup, for instance, must enhance so that we say, “What a gorgeous face,” not “What great eye shadow.” A device that Maurice Sendak (1963) used in Where the Wild Things Are is so subtle that most readers don’t notice they are being influenced by it. As Max’s anger grows, so do the illustrations, getting larger and larger until they fill a full double-page spread. Then as Max’s anger cools, the illustrations begin to shrink.

Finally, the process of tine bookmaking gives us a few other evaluative considerations.

The size and shape of books may match the story line, as in Janice Udry’s A Tree Is Nice (1956). Marc Simont’s tall tree illustrations suggest the tall, thin format for the book. Other book design elements can set quality publications apart. For example, the rainbow trail, a significant recurring design on Pueblo Native American pottery and other art forms, becomes a unifying factor as it leads the reader through Arrow to the Sun (McDermott 1974a). Ann Jonas’s Round Trip (1983) is designed to be read as a round trip. The illustrations are ingeniously created so that when we reach the end of the book, we flip it upside down and read it backward. All the illustrations suddenly transform into new pictures, an optical illusion of sorts. (See Illustration 28; a movie theater becomes a restaurant.) At the same time, the round-trip theme is a part of the story-a trip into the city and home again. Even small details like decorated endpapers enhance the visual appeal of a picture book. The endpapers inside the cover of a book actually bind book to cover and are traditionally white. However, not only are endpapers often brightly colored in many of today’s books, but they often are illustrated, sometimes with original pieces not found inside. Good examples are the two original paintings by Helen Oxenbury on the endpapers of Rosen’s retelling of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt (1989). A deserted, daytime seashore scene appears on the front endpaper, and a nighttime seashore scene with a bear lumbering along in the surf is on the back.

Other illustrative techniques extend art beyond the traditional designs. Hyman’s borders in Saint George and the Dragon (Hodges 1984) give the look of observing the story through an old-fashioned window. (See Illustration 29.) In Christopher Bing’s illustrations for Ernest Lawrence Thayer’s Casey at the Bat (2000), real and created reproductions of artifacts, newspaper clippings, photographs, and other late-19th-century memorabilia (ticket stubs, coins, medals, baseball cards) are superimposed on bold pen-and-ink drawings resembling the sort appearing in old newspapers. Even the front and back matter, such as the acknowledgments and Library of Congress cataloging information, are hidden away within these reproductions.

In fact, the whole book is carefully designed to look as if it is a scrapbook from the year 1888. Another example is Brinton Turkle’s Deep in the Forest ( 1976). His inclusion of art on the title and copyright pages is an important part of the storytelling process. These pages typically contain art only as embellishment or have none at all. Yet Turkle starts telling his story on the title page, where the bear cub steps out of his safe environment to begin an adventure. (See Illustration 30.)

All these elements of picture book creation and production are what make the visual storytelling and concept teaching process so successful. Children have available to them some of the best current artwork. As teachers and parents, we have the opportunity to help our children become visually literate through fine picture books, to curb the numbing effects of mindless television viewing. Our charge is to offer our children the best in picture and in word, to give them an arsenal for making artistic and literary judgments and developing taste.
This selection comes from

Children’s Literature Briefly, by James Jacobs and Michael Tunnel. Pearson, 2004: 35-45.

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