Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Picture Book Month - One Week To Go!

November is winding down into it's cold, quiet end, leaving us just one week left of International Picture Book Month. So far 23 picture book illustrators, authors, publishers and booksellers have shared their thoughts on 'Why Picture Books Are Important"; and each one has been very instructive. Frequently, we don't give much thought to picture books, apart from whether or not a child will enjoy it. But picture books are complex and fascinating beings, taking us on journeys we would never endeavour otherwise.And the beginning of all those journeys take place when we are children....just babies, really. Fired by the discovery of our own visual literacy, we travel from infancy through old age through books, which take us more places than we could go without them. They help us make sense of the world, where mere words fail us. Picture books are not something we should abandon just because we 'grow up'. We need to read pictures throughout our lives. The joy, the sanity and reason picture books bring is long lasting. Picture books are different from other literary forms. And the difference is simple to ascertain; it's the pictures.
Matthew Cordell, illustrator and today's Picture Book Champion, puts it extremely well when he said;
 "I slowly became aware of just how singular the picture book format really is. It is the one book that is read and appreciated by two vastly different audiences: the adult and the child. For it to work, the picture book has to work double time. It’s fascinating. And frustrating. And amazing. Simultaneously, they are bringing these two groups together in a shared space, with a shared story, and shared art, and shared page turns. Picture books are incomparable.
And, so, what else? What else can picture books do?
What more does one need?"
 You see, this is the thing I really love about Picture Book Month; it focuses on the illustrations that continue to colour our lives throughout. We begin to more deeply consider the gift of the illustrator and what it brings to us; children and adult. They allow us to understand different places, cultures, lives completely unlike our own and to appreciate those things, through pictures. Illustrated books, and their creators deserve far more recognition than they have been getting. But thanks to Picture Book Month, we are allowed further exploration, further appreciation and further joy.
http://picturebookmonth.com/

More thoughts are circulating in Ireland (in particular) regarding the recognition, or rather lack there of, of illustrators and their work. Spurred on by the failure to recognise illustrator Margaret Anne Suggs during the Irish Book Awards for her work on award-winner Pigín of Howth by Katherine Watkins, a debate has been raging, demand more recognition for illustrators in general. Here's an excellent article that was in the Irish Times 2 days ago with numerous contributors. Exceptional points made her:
http://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/do-you-need-me-to-draw-you-a-picture-book-illustrators-demand-equal-status-1.2877752

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