The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
It isn’t just one of your holiday games;
and the naming of illustrators is equally important, Mr Eliot.
As I asserted last week, the illustrations in picture books are absolutely essential. They create the atmosphere for learning tor read – and by that I mean to interpret both words and images. We all know children who have learned to recite a favourite book page by page – cued by the pictures. And speaking as a former teacher, there is nothing wrong with that. They go onto interrogate what’s happening in both sorts of visuals and make sense of the interplay of the two. [Unless put off by bad experiences, which is quite another topic.]
Older readers should have visual verve and beauty in their lives too. No wonder manga and graphic novels are popular. I wonder if non-fiction is favoured by reluctant readers (especially boys) because it often has lots of visuals? Not only does the artwork in these forms combine with the words to form something greater that the whole – but it engages with more than the intellect.
All art constantly aspires towards the condition of music.
Music communicates with us without having to be explained – and the best books do that too.
On a slight digression, illustration is one of the reasons I have not as yet considered self-publication. I realise it’s not so much first impressions that matter but actually making any impression amongst the myriads of self-pubbed books. However, I admit to a possibly snobbish disdain for shoddy artwork: I DO judge a book by its cover . And its endpapers and its chapter headings and all. The more beauty or quirkiness or drama the better.
I should want an illustrator to riff on what I’ve done: not just to represent the words in boring exactitude. To give another dimension that’s not the same but coloured-in. Think of Monteverdi:
I am allowed to have delusions of grandeur in a wishlist.
That would not come cheap – nor should it. Artists of whatever kind have to eat. Creators need paying – and they need recognition.
So here’s my second appeal – to book-bloggers, publicists, readers leaving reviews, anyone in fact commenting on books:
Find out who did the art work ( if you can) and say what you think about it.
I belong to SCBWI – and as we know in any sentence the bit at the end is very important:
The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.