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100 Great Children's Picturebooks

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This unashamed visual feast celebrates the best designed and illustrated picturebooks from around the world over the past one hundred years.

Each book is a creation of genius and inventiveness, and their design and illustration represent such diverse trends as the Russian Constructivists, Italian Futurists, and Postwar Neo-romantics. They are also mirrors of their times reflecting social concerns from a child's and family's perspectives throughout the twentieth and into the twenty-first century.

Fearlessly confronting the frontiers between a child's picturebook and art, this is a collection of books that anyone with an interest in design, illustration, or simply children's literature should know about.

216 pages, Hardcover

First published March 17, 2015

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About the author

Martin Salisbury

31 books46 followers
Martin studied illustration at Maidstone College of Art (now part of the University of the Creative Arts) in the 1970s. He has worked as an illustrator and painter ever since. In recent years his work has focused mainly on the area of children’s book illustration, painting for exhibition and writing on the subject of drawing and illustration.

Martin regularly contributes to Artists & Illustrators magazine, Books for Keeps and the Journal of the Association of Illustrators. Along with colleague Wendy Coates-Smith he founded the graphic arts journal, Line which has been internationally acclaimed as an important contribution to research into illustration and drawing.

In 2004, Martin wrote Illustrating Children’s Books, a major guide to the practice and theory of the art form published by A&C Black in the UK. In 2007, Martin Salisbury was a member of the judging panel for the prestigious Bologna Ragazzi Award in Italy. The following year he joined the international jury for the CJ Picture Book Awards in Seoul.

Martin currently acts as External Examiner (BA Hons Illustration) at the University of Westminster and Southampton Solent University.

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5 stars
53 (53%)
4 stars
27 (27%)
3 stars
18 (18%)
2 stars
1 (1%)
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0 (0%)
Displaying 1 - 21 of 21 reviews
Profile Image for Mathew.
1,472 reviews171 followers
January 30, 2016
I don't think I can emphasise enough the great joy that I got from reading this book. Composed by Martin Salisbury, Professor of Illustration at Cambridge School of Art in Anglia Ruskin University, this is an easy, enjoyable read that explores a broad range of exciting and often unique picturebooks. The diversity in content, style and story is so broad and new to me that I know I'm going to need to go back and read again.
Salisbury not only hand-picks from a range of talented authors and illustrators through history, he is careful to choose from different countries and different themes too. What I particularly liked about the book was his informed, yet accessible, way of sharing the artistic techniques used to create tone, depth, light and space on the paper. This along with brief overviews of the creators of the story and the impact that they would then have on future generations allowed me to accept new illustrator's work (whom I have thought of as original and innovative) with a slight pinch of salt and ask the question: are they working from someone who came before them.
The area that most upsets me about this book is the realisation of how pathetically small the selection of translated texts that we have here in the UK. So many of the 100 picturebooks that Salisbury shares had stories and pictures that I was immediately drawn to and knew that children would be too and yet no one has translated them and brought them to the UK.
Read this and instantly gain a far broader idea of the brilliance that sets picturebook artists apart from picture book artists (those who only illustrate the words).
Profile Image for Jane.
2,681 reviews52 followers
May 13, 2015
This is a great eye-opener for anyone interested in the history and art of the picture book. While Salisbury's choices lean towards mid-century British books, he also includes superb examples from Japan, Soviet Russia, Italy, France and America. A lovely book to browse with plenty of surprises as well as old favorites.
Profile Image for Kris McCracken.
1,465 reviews31 followers
July 3, 2015
As the title suggests, this really is a visual feast that showcases a selection of the best designed and illustrated picture books drawn from around the world from the beginning of the twentieth century. You can forgive Salisbury for choosing some rare and unusual classics, or focusing on less familiar books by the 'big' names of children's books, and each choice is entirely worthy.

I was drawn particularly to the Soviet entries, but more broadly the selection covers the varied genius and inventiveness of different periods. Indeed, the design and illustrations draw from such diverse trends as the Soviet Constructivism, Italian Futurism, and the post-war neo-romantics.

Even more interestingly, each choice tends to act as a mirror of the time of their creation, reflecting social concerns from a child's and family's perspectives throughout the twentieth and into the twenty-first century.
Profile Image for Drew Canole.
1,149 reviews1 follower
February 26, 2017
A rare "[number] [exclamation] [genre] you must read before [event]" book was actually good. I got some really amazing suggestions from this, revisited books I forgot I loved, and saw some books that I will probably never ever find. Each entry has a quick little blurb about the author/illustrator and the book's importance/history. There's a few snapshots of each book, and a few quick notes that point out interesting things - such as noting the illustrator's unique use of color or spacing.

Profile Image for M.L.D..
Author 24 books24 followers
October 17, 2015
I wanted to really love this book--I like children's books and I like reading books about children's books. The author's personal taste does not line up with mine--to be fair, he's not claiming that these selections are the "best", simply that they are "great". Given the number of difficult to find and out of print books he selected, I think a better title would be: obscure children's picturebooks that you should know about.
February 13, 2022
This was a very interesting look at children's picture books. It contained "100 Great Children's Picture Books", chosen by the author. He started with the earliest books, up until 2014. The illustrations were excellent, as I expected them to be. I had not ever seen more than half of these books before, but I did know some of the illustrators. Many of the selections were not from the United States, and they were written in a foreign language, but Martin Salisbury did give a brief synopsis of each story, and a short biography of the author of the book. Some of the books chosen were a surprise to me, and I was surprised to see that many of the books that I would have chosen were not chosen at all. I was familiar with Ludwig Bemelmans, Robert McCloskey, Graham Greene, Beatrix Potter, H.A. Rey, Laurent de Brunhoff, Roger Duvoisin, Leo Lionni, Elizabeth Coatsworth, John Burningham, Ezra Jack Keats, Maurice Sendak, William Steig, Alice and Martinson, Hans Christian Andersen, Astrid Lindgren, and Russell Hoban. If you are a children's literature fan, you will be familiar with these authors/illustrators. The author also includes a list of books on this topic, "Further Reading".
Profile Image for Ashley Lambert-Maberly.
1,173 reviews6 followers
January 21, 2019
Decent, but I likely shan't be returning to it.

I liked the format (double-page spread per book, several examples rather than a single illustration, exposure to many unfamiliar artists), but wasn't thrilled with a lot of the choices--this is inevitable, but the author's taste skews toward that faux-primitive "modern" look that really came into vogue in the 50s, and my taste skews toward elegant and composed (e.g. Gorey or Sendak--who is included, and stands out for his beauty).

And as I'm dreadfully literal, it irks that there are quite a few books that are not Children's Picturebooks. Just call your collection "100 Great Picturebooks" and I'd have had no complaint in that quarter!

(Note: 5 stars = amazing, wonderful, 4 = very good book, 3 = decent read, 2 = disappointing, 1 = awful, just awful. I'm fairly good at picking for myself so end up with a lot of 4s).
Profile Image for Camille.
5 reviews
February 13, 2019
Although it was very interesting, I found the author's choices perplexing. Most of them were books with dark and dreary illustrations. With only a handful of exceptions, the books he chose look as though they were illustrated by artists influenced by disturbing thoughts or hallucinogenic substances. That being said, it was eye opening and informative, although a bit disappointing.
Profile Image for Diana Habashneh.
181 reviews29 followers
February 28, 2020
the book presents useful examples for anyone looking for inspiration, the dates of the art works starts a while a go "20's" and you can see different techniques used in the artistic process, over all it could be used as an inspiration source
Profile Image for Betsy.
1,697 reviews65 followers
January 12, 2022
Fascinating book and one I’ll need to read/look over more than once. So many international titles, too.
81 reviews1 follower
May 14, 2022
M. Salisbury chose the books according to his own taste. Such a pleasure to discover books that I never ever heard of!
Profile Image for Anne.
133 reviews3 followers
October 17, 2019
One hundred books over a span of little more that 100 years, presented chronologically with two pages devoted to each. A seemingly impossible task presented effortlessly and elegantly. The author is a professor at an art school in Cambridge therefore there is a slight British leaning, overall a nice balance among European, U.S. and Asian designer/illustrators.
Profile Image for Jack Keely.
Author 51 books81 followers
June 13, 2016
This book jumped off the shelf at me and I had to buy it. Martin Salisbury has selected 100 wonderful books with evocative and inspirational illustrations that range from the pure abstraction of ABOUT TWO SQUARES by El Lissitzky to the charming narrative pictures that Eberhard Binder created for MR CLOCKMAN. Although a few of the books included were old friends, most of them were new to me. They are all gorgeous. The beautifully designed pages of the selected books burst with inspirational, charming, and delightful images that set my imagination on fire. Most of the examples employ painterly styles that make me want to turn off my computer and dig out my watercolors. Now where did I put those paintbrushes?
534 reviews4 followers
May 6, 2016
This is an amazing book filled with beautiful illustrations and information on authors and illustrators of a select group of books published from 1910 -2014. The books, hailing from many different countries, reflect different illustrating styles, which are also detailed. While there is just enough information provided in the text side bar on each double-page spread, the real stars of the book are the illustrations themselves - and the illustrators who created them.
Profile Image for Sheri.
2,173 reviews7 followers
January 25, 2017
This was one person's view of the great picture books from the early 1900s to 2014. I think he concentrated on the artwork or illustrations and I only recognized 12 of them as having owned or read them. Some were foreign from England, Germany, France, etc. It showed the progression of illustrations and samples of each book and reasons for the colors and the type of illustrations used. Historical I guess and Non fiction.
Profile Image for Paul.
959 reviews6 followers
July 11, 2016
A really good book documenting different children's book throughout the course of the 20th century. I think the illustrations, descriptions and documentation is first rate and the selection is also really good. Other than that it's good to see how children's books have transformed over the course of time.
A definite read for anyone interested in children's books.
Displaying 1 - 21 of 21 reviews

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