The Making of a Picture Book

The Marriage of Text and Art
	At a time when the physical creature we know of as a book is under siege by its virtual  doppelganger, it’s worth celebrating that the picture book remains—at least for now —relatively unchallenged.  Because it’s an actual piece of art, the picture book is more than just something to read, it’s something to look at and something to embrace.  Every aspect of its material presence matters, including the size, the shape, the texture of the paper, and the typeface.  

	This exhibit aims to show some behind-the-scenes elements in the making of this unique and enduring art form. The Pioneer Valley is an extraordinary center of children’s book authors and illustrators, and each book I’ve selected here is a collaborative endeavor by a writer and artist who both live in this area. 

	Although a picture book is primarily intended for children, it’s the product of a sophisticated blending of two quite different creative talents—one visual, the other based on language.  Sometimes the work of one individual (Eric Carle and Mordicai Gerstein are two shining local examples) more often picture books are the marriage of the work of two.  The four picture books in this exhibit illustrate a variety of collaborative scenarios.  Occasionally, author and illustrator are actively involved throughout the creative process, as in the case of Patricia MacLachlan and Emily MacLachlan Charest, co-authors of Once I Ate a Pie and illustrator Katy Schneider, and also the case of Richard Michelson, author of Ten Times Better,  and illustrator Leonard Baskin (who died in 2000, before the book was published). More commonly, author and illustrator work in sequence, as in the case of A Perfect Wizard: Hans Christian Anderson, written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Dennis Nolan, and my own book, The Littlest Matryoshka, illustrated by Kathryn Brown. 

Corinne Demas
photo by Daniella Bordonaro