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Focus on Illustrators

While many young people are familiar with children's book authors, they're often unaware of the names of the people behind the illustrations.

Be sure to check the master list of Caldecott illustrators.

In Their Own Words

Watch interviews and learn more about the illustrators.

Watch video interviews with Caldecott winners from Reading Rockets:

Watch video with Caldecott winners from Library of Congress:

Watch video and listen to audio interviews at Barnes and Noble Meet the Writers:

Listen to National Public Radio audio programs related to Caldecott illustrators:

Do a YouTube or Google Videos search for your author and see if an interview is available.

Create your own video or audio program based on a Caldecott illustrator using the following ideas:

Find the Connections

The world of children's illustrators is remarkably small. Seek out the connections.

All in the Family. Many authors and illustrators like to work with family members. For instance, the Pinkneys are a family of children's authors and illustrators. Leo and Diane Dillon and Arnold and Anita Lobel are husband and wife teams. Can you find other connections among authors and illustrators? Create a bulletin board called "Famous Families" that shows these relationships.

Illustrators in School. Chris Van Allsburg Caldecott winner for The Polar Express was a faculty member at Rhode Island School of Design where David Wiesner went to school. Compare the illustrations. Can you see any of the same techniques? Which ones? Other alumni include Steven Kellogg and David Macaulay. David Wiesner was a student of Van Allsburg. Compare the illustrations. Can you see any of the same techniques? Which ones?

Illustrator Influence. In the article David Wiesner: The Master of Make-believe, Wiesner comments that he has been influenced by William Pene du Bois, Maurice Sendak, Raymond Briggs, and Chris Van Allsburg. Determine the people who influenced your favorite illustrators. Use Illustrators from Reading is Fundamental for ideas.

Illustrators Websites and Blogs

One of the best ways to get to know an illustrator is to check out their website or blog. Many illustrators have publisher websites and fan websites, so be sure to look for the official website that's supported by the illustrator.

Illustrator Websites. Many illustrators maintain great websites to share their work. Evaluate illustrator websites. Which do you think is best? Why? If you were an illustrator, what would you put on your website? Find other websites at SCBWI and CBC.

Illustrator Blog. Some illustrators like to share what they're doing with their fans using a blog. Explore illustrator blogs:

Illustrator Styles, Tips and Tricks

While some illustrators jump right into creating illustrations, others use sketches, photographs, and even models to help visualize the setting and characters.

Models. David Weisner uses sketches and models before creating his illustrations. Build a model and use it for inspiration for a drawing and a story. Explore the creative process David Wiesner uses to create his illustrations. Read about how Janet Stevens uses props in creating her illustrations.

Characters. Illustrators look at the world around them for characters. Read Models to see how Brian Selznick found the characters for The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Invent your own characters. Who will be the inspiration for your drawings?

Style. Each illustrator has a unique style. Examine Stinky Cheese Man. Lane Smith has a very unique artistic style. You can find examples at his website. Try replicating his style. What are some of the features of this style? What makes his work unique? What is your style? Write a critique like those you've found in book reviews that describes your techniques, approaches, and style.

The Growth of an Illustrator. How does the work of an illustrator evolve over time? Select an illustrator. Gather books by that illustrator. How has the illustrator's technique changed over time? What do you like and dislike about these changes?

Many authors such as Marc Simont have had long careers that include other work such as creating political cartoons.

Who Will Be Next?

Once someone wins the Caldecott medal they become well-known. Who will be next? Go to the Featured Artist section of the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators. Explore each of the illustrators featured. Who do you think will win a Caldecott medal someday? Why?

Read the guidelines for becoming a featured artist. Create your own short biography (first name only and without contact information) and choose three samples of your artwork.

Place your project on at the Young Illustrators Wiki.


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