Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Children's Illustrated Books- For Them or Us?

I don't know about you, but when I look at some of the books geared towards young kids, especially those between the ages of three and five, one of the factors I judge them by are the illustrations. The more elaborate the illustrations are, the more likely I am to recommend the book.

But, are these illustrations for the kids, or are they more for the parents who are reading the books to the kids? I wonder about that sometimes, given the way that most of the books are illustrated, in cartoon styles.

Some of the books are more elaborately done - such as Barbara Reid's book The Subway Mouse, which is illustrated with scenes created in Plasticine. Every page of them, from the mice to the tiles on the walls. There's so much to see and notice, I am always amazed at the level of detail.

Then, there's the book series about a kitten, written and illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes, including the title shown, Kitten's Summer, done in mixed media images. While the story is extremely simple, the illustrations, done in mixed media really stand out. I can't even imagine the amount of time it must have taken to create each of the pages in this book, but I find them to be amazing!

These two titles are so very different in illustration style that they stand out from the rest, which are generally more traditional. And, of course, there are the traditional titles, such as the books by Beatrix Potter, all of which are lovingly illustrated with some truly spectacular watercolours. Those are truly books for anyone of any age.

My favourites though are the books by Alexandria Day, about the rottweiler, Carl. The best known of these is, of course, Good Dog Carl, which is simply overflowing with charm. On the other hand, these are books which are equally well designed for the youngest "readers", as there are very few words, especially in this one, which is also available as a board book for little hands to have an easier time turning the pages. I'm not certain, but I think the illustrations for this whole series are watercolours.

These books and authors/illustrators stand out in my mind, but are they books which are designed for the parents' appreciation, or for the kids? I know I tend to recommend them, but I also know that it's the art that I'm drawn to (which I admit when I recommend the books) and not the story. What's your opinion?
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