Fine Art

A new and interesting book arrived yesterday - looking forward to sitting down and spending some time with it. It's called Show & Tell: Exploring the Fine Art of Children's Book Illustration by Dilys Evans (Chronicle Books).

I'm quite interested in this distinction between children's illustration and fine art and like the way Evans conflates the two so neatly in her title. I always find fine art one of those faintly cringe-worthy phrases ... a bit like creative writing, but I do see the necessity of making a distinction. Still there are a number of children's illustrators out there whose work I find very fine indeed. Evans choses to profile 12 illustrators including the fabulous Brian Selznick, Lane Smith, David Shannon and Trina Schart Hyman.

Here's a little of what she has to say in her introduction:

Ultimately, my hope is that this book might help all of us who value children's books to find a universal language to use to talk about art on the page; a vocabulary that helps describe this unique form of artistic expression with greater clarity and common understanding. And that we will then take that vocabulary and use it to explore the many other wonderful books that are on our shelves.

In this regard, we truly suffer from an embarrassment of riches. Children's books have never looked better or been more important. They are one of the few quiet places left where a child can go to be alone, and to travel worlds past, present, and future. They are often the first place children discover poetry and art, honor and loyalty, right and wrong, sadness and hope. And it is there between the pages that children discover the power of their own imagination.
(Dilys Evans)


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