The Stuff Of Childhood: Children’s Book Illustrations

by Arthur Rackham

by Arthur Rackham

Flying carpets, pirate adventures, talking caterpillars becoming butterflies and toys that came to life – many were the hours I dreamed through the pages of books during my childhood. The teachers in my life (several friends & relatives) tell me that they can always tell which students have had books read to them at home. My parents surely read to me, and I still own many of the books I had as a young child. I read these books, and too many more to count, to my children.

by Laura Cornell

by Laura Cornell

But what would these books be without their illustrations? Being a highly visual person, it was the images that enamored me forever. When I see a Jessie Wilcox Smith painting or a Leo Lionni collage, I’m instantly back there again – in my childhood imagination. It was the pictures that left me dreaming of the cloudy land at the top of the beanstalk or the secret life inside the doll’s house.

by Beatrix Potter

by Beatrix Potter

My husband, Scott Freeman, has illustrated two children’s books, and is currently in the process of doing a third book, authored by a woman named Beth El Kurchner. He’s also working on some new books, which he will be authoring himself, in conjunction with a new website he plans to launch June 1. So, all this has me thinking about the topic, and wanting to share with you readers some of the illustrations that have captured my affections both as a child and as a parent.

by Leo Lionni

by Leo Lionni

It’s a good topic to consider with regard to re-purposing, too. After all, stories are re-told; illustrators jump at the chance to depict a classic tale. In our home, we made a study of which re-tellings and re-workings of illustrations were our favorites, and analysed every aspect of difference. Some of Scott’s upcoming works will be adaptations and new editions of classics.

So many noteworthy illustrators have caught our attention through the years that it’s almost unfair to feature particular ones, since so many will unavoidably be left out. Please understand that for each picture I show you here, there are probably a hundred or more I’d love to include.

by Chris VanAllsburg

by Chris VanAllsburg