Thursday, October 6, 2011

Top 5 picture books with non-traditional illustrative styles

List by Annie, Central Library

'The artist's world is limitless. It can be found anywhere, far from where he lives or a few feet away. It is always on his doorstep.'
~Paul Strand

We're used to seeing picture books illustrated traditionally – you know, pen and ink, watercolour, oils, photos… Just like in non-book art, illustrators are branching out and playing with other media. What is interesting is seeing how well, or not, these 3D techniques translate to the 2D, flat image seen in a picture book page. That said, it can be difficult even with 'traditional' media to figure out what technique was used.

Mother Earth and her children: a quilted fairy tale by Sibylle von Olfers; illustrated by Sieglinde Schoen Smith; translated by Jack Zipes.

Stunning quilting illustrates this German tale of the coming of spring. You want to touch the quilt, but the reproduction is equally impressive, so you feel as if you can. The reason this is at 5, is because there’s something not quite right with the text – it feels a bit stilted and old-fashioned.

The bean's story by Tatiana Aslund artwork by Vasanti Unka.

A glorious mash-up of the lifecycle of a bean, combined within the tale of 'Jack and the Beanstalk', within the traditional cumulative structure of 'The house that Jack built'. Illustrated with funky appliqué, and with a suitably gigantic fold-out final page, this book rocks and is great to read aloud. A New Zealand winner.

The princess and the pea: in miniature by Lauren Child; captured by Polly Borland.

Lauren Child's artwork is pretty amazing – collage mostly. This wee number pushed the boat out - with each illustration set up as a miniature set / room and then photographed. And this is what made me pick this title out of all the options of her work. Also recommended is: Who's afraid of the big bad book? How many times have I seen people try and flick the peas off the page in this one.

Pocketful of posies : a treasury of nursery rhymes / [illustrated by] Salley Mavor.

OMG is all I can say. I don't know if I have the sewing vocab to explain the techniques used in this treasure. Ummm…. appliqué, embroidery, collage, assemblage… Stunning.

Mirror / Jeannie Baker.

I so much more than <3 Jeannie Baker. I have seen the original artwork for a double-page spread for The story of rosy dock and I have heard stories of how she creates her artwork. Each blade of grass – individually cut, trimmed, bleached, dyed – all to match her exacting standards. Mirror, her latest, is a tour de force, combining her intricate art with an amazing story – told in parallel ‘texts’ – comparing life of a modern Australian boy and one from a village in Morocco. Stunning.

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