The New York Times had an article on “Picture Books No Longer a Staple for Children” by Julie Bosman. The gist of the article was that picture books languish as parents push big kid books. This seems to be the death of the picture book and as a picture book illustrator I could not be happier. I have been illustrating books long enough to have lived through the death of Young Adult Literature. Young adults were reading adult books and there never, ever, again, in the history of the earth would ever be YA books and don’t even think about submitting them because we are not looking at “those” books. Now look what has happened to Young Adult Literature. The market is hot and every editor is looking for the next YA manuscript and they keep coming.
That gives me hope for the picture book. Since they have “died”, maybe a resurgence is in the near future. The picture book brings something to a child that no other book can bring. It is the combining of words and pictures in a way that can get a child thinking about his or her world. They can see the beauty in a Lion and a Mouse on the African Serengeti and see things in the pictures that the words do not tell. They can raise the biggest bear and live through the problems that can happen when a bear gets into the bacon and hams in the Pennell’s smoke house. They can have trouble with their friend rabbit and get into trouble taking a bawth on the 18th floor of the Plaza Hotel. Not all learning can be measured by a test. There is a lot to be learned by sitting in a loving parent’s lap and traveling to far off places in a picture book. There is a joy from hearing the rhythm and rhyme of words tripping off the tongue of the reader. There is a warmth that comes from sharing the pictures and words with another. There is a broadening of imagination when the brain takes off on a journey that the words and pictures began. So let’s hear it for the picture book and lets take the time to share them with those little critters that we love. Some of us have never out grown our love of the picture book.
“The Lion & The Mouse” by Jerry Pinkney
“The Biggest Bear” story and pictures by Lynd Ward
“My Friend Rabbit” by Eric Rohmann
“Eloise Takes A Bawth” drawings by Hilary Knight