A noteworthy review of Favorite Children's Authors and Illustrators [1st Edition] from Children's Literature on April 1, 2003
This really is a Who’s Who of children’s literature. In six volumes the editors have created profiles of 222 authors and illustrators. The first volume in the series opens with an introduction by Janice Del Negro who remarks on the natural curiosity of kids to want to know more about those who have written or illustrated the books that they love. To that end, she notes that ‘Each essay is brief but informative, and the child-pleasing elements are many: every entry includes a photograph of the author or illustrator, reproductions of book covers, quotes from and about the subject and interesting facts.’ Who could ask for anything more—full color reproduction is perhaps the only element that this book does not include which would probably have made it prohibitively expensive. The compendium is not meant to be all inclusive—it focuses on those writers from the twentieth century and thus should be appealing to today’s middle grade readers, their parents, teachers and children’s literature enthusiasts. The editors have promised to add more volumes and have solicited suggestions from kids as to who should be in future volumes. Each volume lists major (15) children’s author and illustrator literary awards. Open the book to any entry—it is a delight to browse and enjoy. In Volume 1, I opened the book to Jan Brett. Under her name kids will see a birth date and if the person has died the date of death. Next there is a symbol—a paint palette or pen, although some of these individuals both write and illustrate their books, but that is not evident until you read the text. Kids get a bit of information about the featured author or illustrator’s younger years, where he or she went to school and a bit about the individual’s career. In a sidebar, there is a selected bibliography with dates of the author or illustrator’s books and a black-and-white reproduction of a book jacket. For Jan Brett, the jacket is from the first book that she both wrote and illustrated. Significant quotes are boxed, and kids learn what inspired Brett and something about her style. The essays often answer that perennial question ‘Where do your ideas come from?’ For Brett they come ‘from her memories, from daydreaming, and from her travels.’ A few of the added extras are Jan Brett’s favorite book as a child and where to find out more about her—these entries include books and web sites. The closing statement reveals a bit more about the author or illustrator’s involvement with his or her work. In Brett’s case, she hates to finish a book because she does not want to say good-bye to the characters that she has created. This series is great for browsing and will be a wonderful resource for kids writing reports or anyone studying children’s literature. The index covers all of the volumes in the set.
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