Children’s book illustrators have such a profound responsibility! Their work can shape a child’s emotional response to the world, and affect our sense of beauty forever. Here are few of the most formative images from my own childhood.
From Robert Louis Stevenson’s “A Child’s Garden of Verses” illustrated by Gyo Fujikawa, this deep blue starry sky is now framed on Sonja’s nursery wall. It entranced me as a child (although I must admit I barely remember the poem) and inspired me to paint piles of night sky paintings as an adult.
I’ve been mesmerized by this image for as long as I can remember. When I was in high school, I purchased a large, oval-shaped ring because of how deeply connected I felt to the woman in this illustration. Mine was not engraved with the name and likeness of Descartes like hers, but it was close enough and I didn’t take it off for years. The book is “Story Number 1,” the first of 3 surealist tales by Eugene Ionesco of little Josette and the bizarre stories she is told by her father.
The rich illustrations by Etienne Delessert are complex in texture, but soft and excitingly strange.
From the same book, an image that made the idea of traveling through a dark night seem incredibly cozy and atmospheric. I’ve always loved to see the lights of towns and houses through a car window and imagine the lives being lived.
And this illustration by Steffie Lerch from “The Surprise Doll” by Morrell Gipson has given me a life-long delight in putting large groups of stuffed animals or dolls together in carriages, baskets, and cribs. Only now I do it a hundred times a day just to get them off the floor!