IMHO, no personal library can be complete without at lease one shelf of children’s picture books. Children’s books, good ones anyway, are works of art for the eye and the soul.
A children’s picture book author must distill deep human questions into the fewest words possible. The illustrator must render universal emotions and experiences into artwork that enhances the text while not overpowering it.
For years I collected children’s picture books to read with the grandchildren I hoped I might have one day. Now that I do, it’s not only a delight to share my treasures but I discover new treasures each time I visit. Here are my three most recent finds:
I adore Joyce Hesselberth. Her artwork is charming and in pitter pattern her illustrations were ingenious invitations to discover patterns page after page.
Anthony Browne is a new one for me. Any reader can identify with Browne’s eponymous Willy the Dreamer, who envisions himself as an actor, a painter, a scuba diver. Browne’s artwork is a trifecta of cleverness. There bunches of hidden bananas, visual puns and
best of all for the art-wise adult, homages to Magritte, Dali and Henri Rousseau among others.
I didn’t get to spend enough time with Oliver Jeffers and the book he wrote for his newborn son. Here We Are, Notes for Living on the Planet Earth. Jeffers’ illustrations become increasingly complex as he moves from the Earth’s atompshere and the solar system and weather systems to life here on earth. These are the kinds of illustrations that take time to enjoy, the kinds that reward the reader the more carefully and deeply she explores the pages. This two-page spread of humanity entranced me as much as it did Olivia. After this most recent visit with Olivia, dedicating another shelf in my office to chidren’s picture boks just might be in order.