Show Me a Story!: Why Picture Books Matter: Conversations with 21 of the World's Most Celebrated Illustrators

Show Me a Story!: Why Picture Books Matter: Conversations with 21 of the World's Most Celebrated Illustrators

by Leonard S. Marcus
     
 

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In compelling interviews by the acclaimed Leonard S. Marcus, twenty-one top authors and illustrators reveal their inside stories on the art of creating picture books.

Max and Mickey; Miss Nelson; Pack, Quack, and Mrs. Mallard; Pigeon; Sylvester; John Henry; and a very hungry caterpillar - these are just a few of the beloved picture book characters

Overview

In compelling interviews by the acclaimed Leonard S. Marcus, twenty-one top authors and illustrators reveal their inside stories on the art of creating picture books.

Max and Mickey; Miss Nelson; Pack, Quack, and Mrs. Mallard; Pigeon; Sylvester; John Henry; and a very hungry caterpillar - these are just a few of the beloved picture book characters discussed in Show Me a Story. Renowned children's literature authority Leonard S. Marcus speaks with their creators and others - twenty-one of the world's most celebrated authors and illustrators
- and asks about their childhood, their inspiration, their determination, their mentors, their creative choices, and more. Amplifying these richly entertaining and thought-provoking conversations are eighty-eight full-color plates revealing each illustrator's artistic process from sketch to near
-final artwork in fascinating, behind-the-scenes detail. Why do children love and need picture books so much? Recasting and greatly expanding on a volume published in 2002 as Ways of Telling, Leonard S. Marcus confirms that picture books matter because they make a difference in our children's lives.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
These discussions of the relationship between artists’ lives and the stories they produce, preferences regarding medium or style, and the unique confluences of circumstance, market and passion are indubitably worthwhile.
—Kirkus Reviews
Children's Literature - Ellen Welty
Marcus has compiled a collection of priceless interviews from artists and illustrators of many children's books. The writing process was a multi-year project as evidenced by the fact that several of the artists interviewed have been deceased for several years. That only makes the collection more interesting, however. Included in the twenty one interviews are conversations with Eric Carle, Maurice Sendak and Tana Hoban. Marcus begins by asking each of them about their childhood; in particular, what influences they had when they were beginning to explore artistic expression. The answers are as varied as the individuals and provide readers with insight into the artist's style and choice of medium. There is a section of color illustrations in the center of the book with examples from most of the illustrators who were interviewed by the author. Back matter includes a bibliography of each of the artists, illustration and photographic credits, source notes, and an index. Teachers and librarians will benefit the most from this excellent resource although younger readers who might be interested in book illustration as a career will also appreciate it.
VOYA - Lynne Farrell Stover
With a title that works as a synopsis, this straightforward work by eminent children's book critic Lenard Marcus shares transcripts of his conversations with twenty-one renowned illustrators. Listed alphabetically, each chapter begins with a photograph of the artist and continues with biographical background that includes information about the subject's heritage, works, awards, and when and where the interview took place. Marcus is the master of asking questions, most often dealing with childhood and the discovery of artistic talent, that invite deep and detailed responses. Thus, information and insights shared by the interviewed artists are revealing and sometimes unexpected. Who knew that in her youth Vera Williams was truly a free spirit, that Sir Quentin Blake is now a Knight of the Realm, or that Maurice Sendak is such a fragile and tortured soul? Students doing research on one of the featured illustrators, or young artists keen to discover how others became experts at their craft, will find this book informative and interesting. The examples of the illustrators' artwork embedded in the center of the book are unique and entertaining to study. Students expecting to find interviews with some currently celebrated illustrators such as Kadir Nelson, Tony DiTerlizze or Brain Selznick will, however, be disappointed. It should be noted that some of the interviews are dated; the earliest being conducted in 1988; the most resent in 2009. Reviewer: Lynne Farrell Stover
School Library Journal
Marcus set out "on a kind of mad quest to find the vital thread that links an artist's life story to the stories and images for which he or she is known." To accomplish this, he has provided profiles and conversations with 21 of the most celebrated illustrators of contemporary picture books. Most of the interviews occurred in 2009 or prior, with some dating as far back as 1988, which is when Maurice Sendak's Dear Mili was published. Eleven of them were published in Ways of Telling (Dutton, 2002). Of those originals, three include follow-up Q & A's. Also, an abridged version of part three of the interview with Sendak appeared in the Horn Book. Still, this volume provides inspiration and insight into the creative process. It starts with a brief but informative overview of the history of the modern-day picture book. Interesting tidbits about the creators' early years and their careers are captivating and enlightening. New to this volume is a section that reproduces a sample of each artist's dummy spreads, sketches, or other preliminary drawings to show the process of creating art and the hard work required to get it right. The book also discusses why picture books matter. Combined with Ways of Telling, this book profiles the best children's illustrators of our time. Share it with budding artists and art students who are struggling to find a style of their own.—Renee McGrath, Nassau Library System, Uniondale, NY
Kirkus Reviews
Selecting 11 illustrators popular in the past decade, among them Chris Raschka, Lois Ehlert and Mo Willems, and adding postscripts to 10 he had interviewed for Ways of Telling (2002), Marcus mines the A-list, producing fascinating insights into the lives of picture-book creators and the format itself. Organized alphabetically, each interview is preceded by a photograph and brief introduction. In contrast to the representative reproductions in the earlier title, the accompanying color insert presents process. Studies, sketches and scenes that didn't make it are accompanied by instructive captions. The historian's command of publishing trends, personalities, formal elements and psychology leads to customized questions, although common themes emerge. These include the power of teachers to enable artists to recognize their potential or doubt it, the role of encouraging relatives, the ways sensitive people grapple with family issues and economic or political realities and the impact of Charles Schulz and Maurice Sendak. The inclusion of Quentin Blake, Yumi Heo, Peter Sís, and Lisbeth Zwerger adds an international perspective. It is curious, though, that Marcus recycles so much from his previous book; except for Sendak's seven-page commentary on Bumble-Ardy (2011), not much value is added. Why not a full-fledged second volume? That said, these discussions of the relationship between artists' lives and the stories they produce, preferences regarding medium or style, and the unique confluences of circumstance, market and passion are indubitably worthwhile. A welcome illumination of a historically under-appreciated art form. (bibliography, source notes) (Nonfiction. 14 & up)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780763635060
Publisher:
Candlewick Press
Publication date:
05/08/2012
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
1,198,072
Product dimensions:
6.80(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.30(d)
Age Range:
12 Years

Meet the Author

Leonard S. Marcus is one of the world’s leading writers about children’s books and their illustrations. His many books include The Wand in the Word: Conversations with Writers of Fantasy; Funny Business: Conversations with Writers of Comedy; Dear Genius; and others. His essays, interviews, and reviews appear in the New York Times Book Review, among other publications. About Show Me a Story!, he says, "Our favorite picture books speak to us at the start of life and continue to speak to us for the rest of our lives. I find that an amazing achievement." Leonard S. Marcus lives in Brooklyn.

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