This year, I got reacquainted with one of my favorite genres of books….children’s picture books. What I enjoy and appreciate the most about this type of book is the varied and intriguing types of art used in the illustrations. The Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, honors illustrators of picture books with an award every year called the Caldecott Award. Here are a few of my favorites.
Flotsam, the 2007 award winner by David Weisner, is a wordless book that tells the story of a boy who discovers an underwater camera and quickly develops the pictures from the camera. The story unfolds as we discover what the camera has captured of life under the sea. The illustrations are made up of beautiful watercolor illustrations of magical underwater scenes of sea creatures.
The House in the Night, illustrated by Beth Krommes and written by Susan Marie Swanson, is the 2009 medal winner. This book was inspired by an old English nursery rhyme. The technique that the illustrator used in this picture book is called scratchboard art. With this technique, the drawing surface starts completely black. The drawing is made by scratching white lines through the ink with a sharp tool. The more lines that are drawn, the brighter the picture becomes. Color like the yellow in this book is then added with watercolor paints.
The Invention of Hugo Cabret is a 550 page novel in words and pictures. It was awarded the Caldecott in 2008. The author, Brian Selznick, describes his book as a combination of a novel, picture book, graphic novel, flip book, and movie. The unique, beautiful, detailed illustrations were all done in pencil sketches.
Picture books are more than just children’s stories; many contain beautiful works of art, and can be enjoyed and appreciated by people of all ages. Be sure to check out the rest of the Caldecott Award winning books, and next time you’re looking for a good book, don’t forget to visit the Children’s section.
Youth Services Information Specialist