Monday, November 02, 2009

Nonfiction Monday

Show and Tell: Exploring the Fine Art of Children's Book Illustration Dilys Evans

When I was in college, I was very involved with the college's literary magazine. I was on both the art and literature selection committees. I don't know how I ever got on the art committee or why I stayed on it. I love art, but I can't discuss it intelligently. I had a few stock phrases that I could use intelligently such as "I really like the use of negative space" and "the composition just draws the viewer in" but mostly I'd pull a Meryl Streep as Anna Wintour in The Devil Wears Prada and shake my head slightly with a pained expression on my face. When pressed, I'd explain that "it just doesn't do anything for me."

That's one of the main reasons I don't review picture books on this blog, and when I review things that rely heavily on illustration, like graphic novels, the bit where I talk about the art is always strained, if I even bring up the art at all.

This book reminds me why I don't talk about art much. Each chapter stands alone as its own little essay on the work, life, and career of a children's book illustrator. It's full of technical explanations on process, the only I really got into was Denise Fleming, who it turns out is INSANE. Ok, not really, but her medium is paper pulp. She makes each illustration in a piece of paper as she makes the paper. I've made a lot of paper in my day (I really love making paper) and that's just super hard core.

Evans points out all these things I never noticed-- what makes us turn the page, the little details that tell the story, and fully convinces us that each of these artists is a genius.

The prose is full of technical information and can be rather dense in place for those not used to reading about art, and it would be really nice if there were an introduction and conclusion to look at the group of essay/chapters as a whole and to look at common themes and items that make a truly great picture book.

Overall though, a really interesting read for those interested in picture book illustration.

Nonfiction Monday round up is over at Books Together.

Book Provided by... my local library

Reason I picked it up... it was this month's book for the DC Kidlit Book club.

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1 comment:

Z-Kids said...

Thanks for reviewing -- I'm going to look for this one immediately...
- AZ