The best way to tackle serious issues, said Klassen, is with a solid visual premise. Words aren’t within the jurisdiction of very young children. Their territory lies with the pictures. The trick is to allow kids to suss out the reality of a given situation via the illustrations.
“It’s not just more information,” said Klassen of moments like one in “We Found a Hat” when one turtle says he is thinking of nothing while his eyes are fixed covetously on the hat he wants to steal. “It’s actually the true story.”
So why the hat? Because hats aren’t necessary, said Klassen. If a character wanted his money back or his food back or something consequential along those lines, then the thievery would be justified. A hat is superfluous but sentimental. In these books the hats don’t even really fit the animals who want them.
“That doesn’t matter, it’s beside the point,” said Klassen. “Kids’ books should have a visual premise to solve. At the end of these books somebody better be wearing a hat.”
Independent bookshop Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights in Bath is engaging Lizzy Stewart as an ‘illustrator in residence’ during this year’s Bath Children’s Literature Festival.For the week starting 3rd October, Stewart will base herself in the shop, giving “people the chance to see what she’s up to”, said owner Nic Bottomley.“The idea, which we conceived with Lizzy’s agent Suresh Ariaratnam, was to give her space in the shop where she can continue her work as an illustrator,” he said. “People will be able to see what she’s working on at the moment.”
His inimitable graphic style is one reason for his popularity. But the purchase he achieves on young imaginations comes from somewhere else: the sense of oddness, otherness, isolation and melancholy that suffuse his stories.
“I grew up with three brothers so maybe it’s wishful thinking that I lived in an isolated world,” he laughs. “But I’ve never really dug that deep to figure out where it comes from.”
He admits, however, that growing up in Belfast during the Troubles did have an effect on his world view. “I had a very happy, normal upbringing but there was a backdrop of violence, a sort of dichotomy of two different perspectives, two different sides effectively. Maybe there’s a lack of sweetness in the books because it never sat right, it felt unnatural.”
But, rare among those who achieve ubiquity in their field, Jeffers continues to push in directions both expected and unexpected. He maintains a parallel career as a painter, has dipped into film and video work and, though his latest project is aimed at children, it has seen him collaborate with an artist whose work is very much outside the genre: typographical artist Sam Winston.
Together he and Jeffers have created A Child Of Books. Five years in the making, its publisher Walker Books calls it a manifesto for reading, though Jeffers is quick to disavow any political intent.
Hugely recommended feature on Charles Keeping from The Gentle Author blog:
The illustrations of Charles Keeping (1924–1988) burned themselves into my consciousness as a child and I have loved his work ever since. A major figure in British publishing in the last century, Keeping illustrated over one hundred books (including the entire novels of Dickens) and won the Kate Greenaway and Carnegie Medals for his superlative talent.
In 1975, Keeping published ‘Cockney Ding Dong,’ in which he collected songs he remembered sung at home as a child. Illustrated with tender portraits of his extended family, the book is an unusual form of autobiography, recreating an entire cultural world through drawing and popular song.
Recently, I visited the Keeping Gallery at Shortlands in Kent to meet Vicky and Sean Keeping who talked to me about their father’s work, as we sat in the family home where they grew up and where much of his work is now preserved and displayed for visitors. You can read my interview at the end of this selection of illustrations from ‘Cockney Ding Dong.’
Revered cartoonist Jack Davis [has died] at the age of 91.
Davis’s art career spanned several mediums, from comics, to movie posters, to advertising. One of his first jobs was drawing a Coco-Cola training manual in 1949.
In 1952, Davis went on to become one of the founding artists of Harvey Kurtzman’s Mad Magazine. He worked on the first 30 issues Mad Magazine, as well as Panic, Cracked, Trump, Humbug, and Help!
Davis has been recognized as one of the greats of the comics industry. He received the National Cartoonists Society’s Milton Caniff Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996 and received their Reuben Award in 2000. In 2003, he was inducted into the Will Eisner Hall of Fame.
full piece via Mad Magazine And EC Comics Artist Jack Davis Dies At 91.
in 1956 [Roland Collins] illustrated Charlotte Haldane’s canine children’s book Fifi and Antoine.
Jackie Morris shares some of her beautiful new library cards that she has created for four London libraries
Peter had been commissioned by the gallery to paint me, and this was the first time we had met. He gave me a lot of insight into the art of portraiture, and I think he also picked up on my weakness for pictures of rooms. At any rate, when he later came to visit me in Glasgow to do some preliminary sketches, he was very taken with my “props room”. This is the smallest room in my house, with floor-to-ceiling shelves on three of its walls. The shelves are crammed with the props I use when acting out my stories at book festivals and in theatres. This performance aspect of my work means a lot to me – probably as much as the writing itself – but I had rarely been able to interest any visiting journalists in the props room or get photographers to snap me there. They would usually take a cursory glance and then say: “I see – and can you tell me, what gave you the idea for The Gruffalo?” To my delight, Peter clearly thought the shelves would make a suitable background, at once illuminating and mysterious. I didn’t want it to be too obvious what the different objects behind me were. It would have seemed a bit corny and condescending to show a children’s author with a mermaid, a witch’s hat, a monkey puppet and so on. To my relief Peter agreed, and was happy for me to turn some of the things around, presenting just a glimpse of the Gruffalo’s purple prickles, the mermaid’s blue shimmering tail and the tresses of the ghost’s disembodied head; the idea was that these should come across as glimpses into my imagination, as well as providing interesting colours and textures.
I think it was Peter’s idea for me to be holding a notebook and pencil, as if I might be writing a story about the viewer. I’d never had my portrait painted, but since I absolutely hate lengthy photoshoots I wasn’t entirely looking forward to the experience. I imagined I wouldn’t be allowed to twitch a muscle, and I also had a terror of feeling bored, since sitting still and unoccupied is not something I normally do. If I haven’t got a book, a crossword or a game of sudoku, I tend to panic. In fact the whole procedure was surprisingly enjoyable. On that visit to my house Peter did some quick sketches and took some (mercifully even quicker) photos as a way of becoming acquainted with my features, and perhaps, too, as a way of getting to know me, since we talked quite a lot. When I next saw him, several months later in his studio, he’d already painted a lot of the portrait using the sketches and photos. He then needed me to do four two-hour sittings over two days, so he could change some things, add some details and paint my hands. This time I had to remain even more still, but I found it was soothing to be able to fix my gaze on a picture on his wall and contemplate it at length, while listening to hours of Radio 4.
Boel Westin, professor of literature at the University of Stockholm, has written an affectionate biography. She wrote her doctoral thesis on the Moomin world and knew Jansson. In the book, Westin compares her to Shakespeare, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, even "Chekov spiced with Poe". Actually, Jansson needs no such comparisons: that she wrote well is self-evident from the enduring popularity of her surreal and prankish tales.