Children’s book illustrations provide beautiful artwork to enhance riveting stories and thought-provoking poems. These picture books about art and artists will inspire young children to put their hands and imaginations to work to give visual images to the stories in their hearts.
“Draw!” by Raúl Colón, 2014, Simon & Schuster, ages 4-8.
Elephants, zebras, giraffes are all created from the imagination of a boy and his sketchbook. This wordless book relies on the reader’s imagination to tell the story of a boy’s African safari. In the Author’s Note, Raúl Colón shares his inspiration for “Draw!” and how his days of drawing in his bedroom as a young boy and attending high school in Puerto Rico led to his present success as an illustrator.
“Ben Draws Trouble” by Matt Davies, 2015, Roaring Book Press, ages 5-8.
Ben loves to draw, and often draws caricatures of people he knows. When his private sketchbook is lost and then found by his classmates, Ben panics. Luckily Ben’s artistic talent is recognized by an admirer and is soon put to good use. Author/illustrator Matt Davies is a 2004 Pulitzer Prize winner for editorial cartoons. His ink and watercolor illustrations in this book and “Ben Rides On” engagingly depict Ben as an energetic and creative young boy.
“Viva Frida” by Yuyi Morales, 2014, Roaring Book Press, ages 5-10.
Award winning author and illustrator, Yuyi Morales, depicts the life of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo through the creation of hand-made puppets, scenery, and bright colors. One and two-word phrases, in English and Spanish, present a contrast in simplicity from the vibrant illustrations. The author’s note describes Frida’s life as full of laughter and her work as full of old and new symbols of Mexican culture.
“Viva Frida” is a 2015 Caldecott Honor Book, an award for picture book illustrations and the 2015 Pura Belpré Award, recognizing Latino/Latina authors and illustrators.
“How to Draw a Dragon” by Douglas Florian, 2015, Beach Lane Books, ages 4-8.
While dragons live in our imagination, they come to life in this picture book written and illustrated by poet and artist Douglas Florian. Full-page, brightly colored illustrations depict friendly and not-so-friendly dragons, in a child-like style. Rhyming verse encourages the reader to draw the pointy spines, long teeth, and bulging eyes of their own dragon. The dragons of our imagination can breathe fire and take flight, but can also return to the dear friend whose imagination gives the dragon life.
“Edward Hopper Paints His World” by Robert Burleigh, Illustrated by Wendell Minor, 2014, Henry Holt, ages 7-12.
This picture book biography explores the life of Edward Hopper, respected as an important American artist from the twentieth century. As a boy, Edward knew he wanted to be an artist, and as a young man he pursued this dream, first in New York City, then in Paris. Upon his return to America, Hopper lived the life of a struggling artist, striving to paint what moved him deeply, even if his work was not popular at the time. Hopper’s work eventually did receive notice, and his painting entitled “Nighthawks”, the street view of a night-time scene from an all night diner, can be viewed today at the Art Institute of Chicago. This book presents illustrator Wendell Minor’s interpretation of Hopper’s work, lending a new perspective to the paintings that include “Early Sunday Morning” and “Gas”.
Reviewed by Elizabeth Dobler