Caldecott Illustrator Panel

12 Nov

On Sunday, I was lucky enough to attend a Caldecott Illustrator Panel with Brian Selznick, David Wiesner, and Chris Van Allsburg. I love all of these illustrator’s artwork and have very specific memories about sharing and reading their books. I’ve had the great fortune to hear both David Wiesner and Brian Selznick speak previously, but had not yet had a chance to hear Chris Van Allsburg.

The panel was put together by Children’s Book World in Haverford, PA.  An independent bookstore that has been around for 25 years and does an amazing job of making children’s authors and illustrators accessible to their fans.  This was the first event that I got a chance to attend and it was wonderful!  There was a large crowd of teachers, librarians, parents, and children.

The panel was moderated by  Jennifer Brown, well versed in children’s literature and she asked a number of great questions.  She has a great website – Twenty by Jenny, a blog about the best children’s books for ages 0 – 18. I only wished that she could have asked a few more questions that the kids in the audience would have been interested in – the questions were very much adult focused which were not very interesting to the children.  But during the question and answer portion, a few kids were able to ask (really great) questions and many got to meet the illustrators in person after the panel.

I’m continually amazed at how many illustrators don’t necessarily go into children’s illustration as a career, but stumble upon it later and do amazingly well at it.  Many also do not focus on creating “children’s books” rather creating books that are meaningful to themselves.  I was also surprised to hear how respectful they are of other illustrators doing work so completely different than their own – they admire each other’s work and marvel at how different picture book art can be from one illustrator to another.

Children’s book illustrations have more recently begun being seen as an art form, rather than purely an addition to a book and the art has changed drastically over the past 100 years.  Check out the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, if you don’t believe me!  Adults often don’t spend time closely looking at the pictures of a book, but that’s exactly what a child is looking at – they gather most of their information about a story from the pictures, which means illustrators must be engaging and accurate, not an easy feat!  If you’re looking for some beautifully illustrates books to give as gifts this holiday season, or just want to see what all the buzz is about – check out the Caldecott Award winners, but also the New York Times Best Illustrated Books of 2014.  Enjoy!

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