Today I want to single out three great picture books from my collection. They are all award winning books and each has illustrations and story by the same person.
I Want My Hat Back By Jon Klassen
My Friend Rabbit By Eric Rohmann
Tuesday By David Weisner
One my favorite things to do when I read a picture book is to analyze it (I get very excited when I do this! It’s a lot of fun!). What I mean by this is that I go through the book cover to cover and take notes about the things I notice: structure, humor, medium (and why it was used), characters, text, flow, etc. This allows me to go through several books and compare and contrast them and has helped me to see how many different ways there are to create a picture book.
Jon Klassen uses dry humor in his writing and beautifully reinforces it with his illustrations. The simplicity of his watercolor and ink images, touched up digitally, allow his character’s nuances to shine.
(From an interview with Jon Klassen)
Your illustrations are varied, but distinctive, how would you describe your style?
It’s an ongoing process, and a constantly changing one, because you yourself change, so the work changes with it. I think this is more fun than having a style that you can outline specifically, because one day you might wake up and not like that style any more and then what do you do?
“My favorite part of the bookmaking process is the beginning: exploring, doodling, daydreaming, discovering. This is when ideas come alive, when thoughts are put to paper and made tangible. At first I only have an inkling of what I want the finished book to look like and I’ll put those first rudimentary ideas down in pencil sketches. Then I write, then a few more pictures informed by the words. Then more writing … more pictures … words … pictures … more words, until the story starts to find it’s way. From there I can see my choices and move ahead.”
David Wiesner turns an otherwise ordinary night of the week into a surreal event in which frogs begin to float and fly through the town. There is no need for text to accompany his brilliant illustrations because they tell the story so fluidly.
(From an interview with David Wiesner)
You really enjoy creating wordless books. Can you describe where this
“I love sequential art more than just painting a picture. I got into books because I love telling stories, and telling stories with pictures. The wordless book is kind of the purest form of that. I was inspired a great deal by the examples that I came across as I was growing up and then in art school. The fact that this was something that had been done and was a form of storytelling was a great eye-opening experience. As a kid, there were comic books. There was a comic artist I liked a lot named Jim Steranko, who was a disciple of the great Jack Kirby. He used to put in one, two pages at a time of completely wordless storytelling — no word balloons, no “Pow! Bam!” kind of stuff. It was just pictures. That may be the first place that I came across this, and was stunned.”
These three books have many differences and similarities, and when I analyze picture books and make these comparisons, I feel an overwhelming sense of calm. Knowing that so many successful author/illustrators are out there, winning awards and letting their own person come through in their stories, gives me hope that I can do the same in my work.