Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Favorite Illustrators

There are some children's books I could just look through over and over, admiring their illustrations.  For picture books, the pictures tell as much of the story as the words, and are made truly precious when the artwork speaks for itself.  I love many, many classic illustrators, and quite a few new ones as well, but here are 2 of my favorites.  I am currently building my collection of these 2 illustrators -- someday I'd love to have everything they've done!  

1. Eloise Wilkin -- who doesn't know the chubby faces of Eloise Wilkin's children?  Her Golden Books in the 50's 60's and 70's are classics that generations have grown up with.  I have collected a good number of her timeless books, and in fact, I chose the Eloise Wilkin Baby Journal to use for a baby book for Susie, which has illustrations from several of her "Baby Dear" series of books.  I simply adore her chubby baby faces and joyful life-like actions of the babies.  

Another favorite from Wilkin is The Wonders of Nature.  May I recommend this book for some summertime outdoorsy exploration?  When I look through this book I want to be 8 again, wandering through the woods on our property in Wisconsin -- fishing in the river, finding deer paths, making forts in the trees and never ever hearing cars go past, just the rustle of the leaves all around you.  Today's children are often hurried from one activity to the next, involved in so many sports, lessons, playdates, etc. to "improve" them that they miss out on good old dirty fun.  Reading this book with your little ones and then getting out in the backyard or local park to explore (forget the weather! Just go out!) would make a wonderful summertime activity.

My all-time favorite Eloise Wilkin book is sadly out of print, We Help Daddy.  I am on the hunt to find it for Susie (yes I could order a used copy from Amazon, but I'm hoping to come upon it at Half Priced Books or something).  I have very old memories of being read this book by our babysitter and she changed the names of the boy and girl in the story to Gretchen and Nathan (my brother and me).  The next time my mother read us the book (correctly), I said "No!  Their names are Nathan and Gretchen!!"  I looked and looked at the picture of the little girl (whose name is actually Sue -- that's why I want it for Susie) watering the plants with her little watering can and thought it looked to be the most fun chore I could imagine.  Maybe one of these days Random House will reissue this favorite -- We Help Mommy is available, so why not this?  Is it too gender specific to suggest that helping Daddy involves outdoor chores?  Gasp! Heaven forbid. HAHA!

2.  Gyo Fujikawa -- her pictures of children are much more comical and cartoonish than Wilkin's, but classic and endearing in their own way!  Susie got her Mother Goose collection when she was first born (from our friend Barb), and Oh What a Busy Day collection for her first birthday (from Aunt Emily).  I believe these are both reprints of books from the 1950's (or perhaps a bit later), but they are beautifully done.  Her Babies book was an early favorite of Susie's, and the first book Fujikawa both wrote and illustrated.  She was ahead of her time illustrating books with muti-racial babies and children in the 1950's, which is one reason why her illustrations still look so fresh and new.  I did not grow up with these books (that I recall), but when you look at her pictures, you feel like a child again!  I could sit and page through the collections over and over exploring the expressions of the children in them.

It may take me quite a bit longer to collect everything Gyo Fujikawa has done, since I've just begun, but I'm up to the task!  I think I might try to get this one next:  A to Z Picture Book.  It looks like another one I could page through for hours.

Who are your favorite children's book illustrators?  Can you even narrow it down to one or two?  I'm linking up to Feed Me Books Friday at The Adventure of Motherhood, so check out other great book recommendations there!


sara's art house said...

These books are so cute! I think I have some of E Wilkin's books without even knowing it. There is one I am thinking about with a little girl- it goes through her daily activities with her and her teddy bear. Wil used to ask to be read "Baby" everyday when he was little.

My favorites are Lois Elhert, Eric Carle, and Simms Taback. But there are many, many more.

Anonymous said...


Who is the illustrator of "The Little Girl and the Big Bear"? I LOVE the pictures in that book...the berry pies, the bear, and the little smeary juicy face with the Grandparents at the end of the book! So CUTE. :)


Anonymous said...

Is there anything sweeter than the illustrations by Maurice Sendak's books about Little Bear? I'm not as big a fan of his "Wild Things" illustr's. ~ Kathy at Clifton

Anonymous said...

Is there anything sweeter than Maurice Sendak's ill's in "Little Bear"? I'm not as big a fan of his Wild Things work. must not forget Beatrix Potter! Oh, to draw Hunka Munka and Peter Rabbit the way she did!!!
~ Kathy at Clifton

Hafeli Ever After said...

Eric Carle! His illustrations are so vibrant!

Gretchen said...

Anna -- Paul Galdone! I love him too! He has illustrated several classics -- I remember we had his version of "The Little Red Hen" at Blue Kangaroo.

Rachel said...

I LOVE Jan Brett. We have "The Owl and the Pussycat," "On Noah's Ark," "The Mitten," and maybe one more by her...they're fabulous and full of detail! We also love the Ernest Shepard illustrations in the Winnie the Pooh books. And who can resist Arnold Lobel's Frog and Toad? Lobel also illustrated a volume of children's poetry that my girls enjoy.

What a fun topic! Thanks for posting!

Rachel W

MommaHarms said...

Jan Brett is a favorite here, and Eric Carle. I always look at the pictures in books and wonder about the countless hours that had to go into illustrating each page. It is a true tallent.

Janna said...

Agreed! I remember these faces from my own childhood which make then 10x's as dear.

You can host Feed Me Books Friday this week if you are up for it. I just give a short blurb that it's at your place.

I use Just a create an account and follow the instructions. It's not hard. I might be able to email you code too if you can't figure it out.