Show Me a Story!

Why Picture Books Matter
, ed. Show Me a Story!: Why Picture Books Matter: Conversations with 21 of the World's Most Celebrated Illustrators. 310p. illus. photos. bibliog. index. notes. CIP. Candlewick. 2012. Tr $22.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-3506-0. LC 2011045897.
Marcus set out "on a kind of mad quest to find the vital thread that links an artist's life story to the stories and images for which he or she is known." To accomplish this, he has provided profiles and conversations with 21 of the most celebrated illustrators of contemporary picture books. Most of the interviews occurred in 2009 or prior, with some dating as far back as 1988, which is when Maurice Sendak's Dear Mili was published. Eleven of them were published in Ways of Telling (Dutton, 2002). Of those originals, three include follow-up Q & A's. Also, an abridged version of part three of the interview with Sendak appeared in the Horn Book. Still, this volume provides inspiration and insight into the creative process. It starts with a brief but informative overview of the history of the modern-day picture book. Interesting tidbits about the creators' early years and their careers are captivating and enlightening. New to this volume is a section that reproduces a sample of each artist's dummy spreads, sketches, or other preliminary drawings to show the process of creating art and the hard work required to get it right. The book also discusses why picture books matter. Combined with Ways of Telling, this book profiles the best children's illustrators of our time. Share it with budding artists and art students who are struggling to find a style of their own.—Renee McGrath, Nassau Library System, Uniondale, NY
Eleven of these interviews appeared in Marcus's Ways of Telling: Conversations on the Art of the Picture Book. What's added is grand to have, however: ten new interviews; a revised introduction; updates for such luminaries as Maurice Sendak and Eric Carle; and a succinct foreword by David Wiesner. Adults may be the primary audience, but this fine resource will inspire those of any age engaged in--or by--the arts.
"For a story’s text to work, it needs to be incomprehensible. Otherwise you wouldn’t need the pictures," avers Mo Willems, neatly explicating the title for these "Conversations with 21 of the World’s Most Celebrated Illustrators." This subtitle may sound familiar: eleven of these interviews appeared in Marcus’s Ways of Telling: Conversations on the Art of the Picture Book (rev. 9/02). What’s added is grand to have, however: ten new interviews; a revised introduction; updates for such luminaries as Maurice Sendak and Eric Carle; and a succinct foreword by David Wiesner explaining why picture books really do matter. Along with the artists’ eloquent musings on their sources of inspiration, Marcus’s disarming queries elicit a fine array of revealing experiences, methods of working, and motivations for illustrating for children. The book teems with quotable insights: "If someone is asleep…you don’t necessarily want to see [the] bed, but you might want to look at the dreams" (Quentin Blake); "M. B. Goffstein’s Me and My Captain…conveys such a beautiful sense of longing" (Kevin Henkes); "My doodle habit became my art" (Yumi Heo); "A good ending is inevitable, but it’s also a surprise" (James Marshall, in a brilliant 1989 interview peppered with memorable lines). Marcus captures the artists as well as their art: Peter Sís, shaped by powerful memories of his father; Vera Williams, who even as a child "was irrepressible, extremely talkative, and quite cute…[and] also had quite a developed sense of the tragic." A thirty-two-page color insert includes "dummy spreads, sketches, and other preliminaries," an excellent decision given that the books themselves are so widely known. New entries here also include John Burningham, Lois Ehlert, and Lisbeth Zwerger. Bibliography of picture books cited; illustration credits; source notes; index. Adults may be the primary audience for this fine resource, but it will inspire, inform, and delight those of any age who are engaged in -- or by -- the arts. joanna rudge long

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