Editorial: Cultural Currency

Roger Sutton

I was late for work, walking down the street to my subway stop. The trash collectors had come and gone, leaving the narrow sidewalk strewn with empty plastic barrels, upright, sideways, rolling about. Coming the other way up the walk were two tough-looking UPS ladies, and I stepped aside to let them pass. No need […]

American Picture Books from Max’s Metaphorical Monsters to Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse

The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

In the course of the last thirty years or so, American picture books have become a mainstay of American life — and items of merchandise — without altogether extinguishing the individual creative voice. They have also ceased to be, in any defining way, American. Until very recently, children in Western societies teethed on nursery rhymes, […]

To Get a Little More of the Picture: Reviewing Picture Books

Snow White trans. by Randall Jarrell

“It is only in childhood that books have any deep influence on our lives.” — Graham Greene “Any book which is at all important should be reread immediately.” — Schopenhauer The management has suggested that I review picture book reviewing. “Feel free to rant about its sorry state.” I also feel wary, as I did […]

An Interview with Walter Lorraine

biggest bear

The multifaceted Walter Lorraine was a designer and art director at Houghton Mifflin before being named Director of Children’s Books, a position he held from 1965–1995. He now heads his own imprint, Walter Lorraine Books. Leonard S. Marcus: How did you get started in publishing? Walter Lorraine: As a student at the Rhode Island School […]

Following in Their Fathers’ Paths

steptoe_mufaro's beautiful daughters

When you follow in the path of your father, you learn to walk like him. — Ashanti proverb (from In Daddy’s Arms I Am Tall) In the late 1960s, modern African-American literature for children was just coming into its own. For some of us, the 1967 publication of Virginia Hamilton’s Zeely was a turning point, […]

Making Picture Books: The Words

zolotow_my grandson lew

The beginning of a picture book comes before the pictures. In Margaret Wise Brown’s beautiful Goodnight Moon, it was the magic of her words, their simplicity and the music in them, that made Clement Hurd’s now-famous visual interpretation possible. Unless the writer is also an illustrator, the writing always comes first. Many fine writers can […]

Making Picture Books: The Pictures

cooney_miss rumphius

I don’t know exactly how I came to be an illustrator of books. Certainly much art throughout the ages has been in the form of illustration, although not necessarily in books. Since I was very little, I intended to be an artist of some sort. As I grew older, I wanted also a liberal-arts education […]

Design Matters

sciesz_hen

by Jon Scieszka Designed by Molly Leach [original print version] Design is an essential part of any picture book. It is the first aspect of a book that a reader judges. It is the framework for the text and illustration. It is the subtle weave of words and pictures that allows both to tell one […]

Picture Book, Picture Book, on the Wall…

Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola

Pictures that tell a story have been with us for a very long time. The cave painters showed us their world and their beliefs, and the Egyptians created storytelling murals in their tombs. Medieval scribes painted exquisite illustrations in their prayer books, and the painters who followed continued the storytelling on boards, walls, vases, ceilings, […]

Studio Views: Family Albums

Tools--Film

Photographing children is both exhilarating and exhausting. When I’m faced with a toddler’s classic meltdown, I wonder why I base my livelihood and sense of personal success on the whims of two- and three-year-olds. I wonder how I can capture natural, appealing photos in spite of runny noses, low blood sugar, and Barney. Hey, who […]