Great Middle Grade Reads discussion

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GENERAL DISCUSSIONS > Do Middle Grades books include interior illustrations?

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message 1: by Larry (last edited Oct 08, 2016 03:12PM) (new)

Larry Moniz (larrymoniz) | 4 comments When I was a boy (many decades ago, middle grades books included B&W line art. Do they still? If so, what is the frequency; one per chapter? Other?

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message 2: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Gipson (zipper34) | 12 comments Good question. I know that a lot of Middle Grade books that I've read over the last few years didn't have any drawings in them, and some of them had one at the beginning of each chapter, while some had a group of pictures at the end. In some, pictures would pop up here and there. From a kid's point of view, at least that what they've been telling me, is they do like the picture break. I didn't have any in my first book, but I'm adding them to my second.


message 3: by Jemima (new)

Jemima Pett | 1421 comments Mod
Thanks for making this a new post, I was desperate to join in!

Like you, I had fond memories of those line drawings in my favourite books, from E H Shephard's fabulous illustrations for Wind in the Willows and Winnie the Pooh to other un-named artists for some of Enid Blyton's tales and many pony books. They just add something, including the visual break from reading words. Colour plates are also wonderful, but sometimes they aren't as good as letting you use your imagination, I think.

I chose to do chapter illustrations for my MG series. Unless you have a helpful publisher or a tame artist in the family (although mine is fully employed in doing the covers) it'll add a lot to the cost, and that should probably be devoted to a professional editor first. But I do my own, very self-consciously and thinking they weren't up to standard at first, but gradually gaining in confidence and presenting them really as 'they are what they are'. I hope they add to the stories. I'm doing Book 7 and 8 illustrations for the #inktober challenge this month, if you want to see them.

As for frequency - I read Cornelia Funke's Inkheart last month and that had chapter illustrations and small sketches for breaks and fillers within the chapter. But I noticed a certain amount of repetition of both, which was a shame. If I remember rightly Marcus Sedgwick's Raven series book 1 (title forgotten) had ravens within the chapter, and slightly more detailed illustrations at the chapter start.

We read Wonderstruck as a BOTM last year, I think, and that is a whole new ballgame. The story is told in picture sequences, and then narrative, from different points of view. I loved it.

But I think we need to get the right balance for the reader who wants to read and imagine from the description, and not move too far into graphic books.


message 4: by Jemima (last edited Oct 11, 2016 08:28AM) (new)

Jemima Pett | 1421 comments Mod
Leone wrote on a thread I've deleted as it was in the wrong place...

My middle-grade historical novels, "Sean's War," (1998) and "Sean's Quest," (2003), ShadowPlay Press, had b/w illustrations at the beginning of each chapter, done by Sheila Kelly Welch. I think it added to kids being able to visualize that time era as they read about the 1830s and the Black Hawk War.


message 5: by J.S. (new)

J.S. Jaeger (jsjaeger) | 174 comments I think budgeting is a big reason many books don't have individual illustrations for each chapter, which is a shame. I've seen many without chapter illustrations or with the same illustration at the beginning of every chapter. Part of the reason we chose to go the self-publishing route was so we can put the money into the artwork. Our Zndaria series has a unique illustration for each chapter and we've received a lot of positive feedback. I definitely think it adds to the value of a middle-grade book.


message 6: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Douglass (rdouglass) | 1673 comments Mod
I do think art adds to a middle-grade book. But I'm with Jemima--if I'm to spend money, it goes to a professional editor first. Well, to be honest, after the professional cover. My Ninja Librarian books have a couple of illustrations I used as chapter headers, repeating them on alternating chapters. They are line drawings and were done by a friend.

My eldest son is developing into a very good artist--primarily pencil work--and his work is right for a fantasy. I'm thinking about paying him to do illustrations for Halitor, and maybe for another book I'm planning.


message 7: by Jemima (last edited Jan 07, 2017 11:45AM) (new)

Jemima Pett | 1421 comments Mod
Our Book of the Month for December - The Twistrose Key - had chapter illustrations. Some were repeated, but I thought they gave the impression of dark and snow (and cold!) very well. I came to dislike them because they emphasised the cold and the general atmosphere of the book.


message 8: by Ali (new)

Ali Seegar | 12 comments I worked with a wonderful illustrator who made 27 illustrations for me in a 24 chapter book, i.e. some chapters had multiple illustrations. I dotted them around where I felt they fitted, some full page and others within the lines. I've had loads of compliments from kids and reviews on how much they love the illustrations. I agree that if budget is tight an editor should be your priority but I do believe illustrations add to the book and make it feel less daunting to a child whose perhaps a more reluctant reader.

Jennifer, I do remember vividly the illustrations from Nania, wonderful!


message 9: by Ju (new)

Ju Ephraime (juephraime) I agree. I love illustrations. I believe it does add to the story.


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