Why this prologue? Because my recommendation today is unusual. A picture book for grades 5-9 (NOT ages 5-9!). So if you're looking for something for the little ones, this isn't for you, but it is definitely a book for anyone interested in the history of children's books.
TITLE: Randolph Caldecott -The Man Who Could Not Stop Drawing
AUTHOR/ILLUSTRATOR: Leonard S. Marcus
|from Macmillan Publishers|
Publisher: Frances Foster Books, FS&G, 2013
Intended Age: 10-14
Themes: NONFICTION, Illustration
Opening lines: "Two swans at the water's edge trade bewildered glances when they notice a little frog poking his head out of the river. The frog is clutching a paper--a letter it would seem--which he reads with a look of total absorption."
Synopsis: The biography of "the father of the modern picture book" (from the front flap copy).
What I like about this book: As a picture book writer and enthusiast, I knew that Randolph Caldecott was an illustrator. I knew that we honor the best illustrators in the field each year with a medal given in his name. But I didn't know a whole lot more. This book is an "old school" comprehensive biography. A birth to death look at a man that accomplished volumes of work in the 39 years he lived. I connected with the fact that Caldecott started in one career--deemed to be a safe way to earn money--and found himself drawn to the second career that he loved.
Reading the book I learned WHY Caldecott is viewed as the father of the modern picture book. He wasn't the first to illustrate books for children, but his focus on active rather than static illustrations, and the idea that illustrations could, and should, add to the text were revolutionary for the 1800's. The book is text dense, as you would expect a book for grades 5-9 to be.
|Balance of text and illustration|
- Macmillan Publishers provides a peek inside the book here.
- Make a list of the Caldecott medal winners. How many have you read?
- Treasure hunt! Look carefully at a picture book. How many things can you find in the illustrations that aren't mentioned in the text?
- If you're interested in reading more picture books on the subject of art and creativity, I found a wonderful list of children's fiction and nonfiction compiled on this subject by the Art Institute of Chicago.
- Try your hand at drawing something in motion. (It's in motion, not you! Although interestingly the book notes that part of Caldecott's style was developed by drawing on a moving train as he traveled from Manchester to London, England!)