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How important are illustrations to the quality of a children's book?
Mark Nissen Mark Feb 15, 2012 05:43PM
Can a children's book still be considered "good" if the illustrations are not well done?

Oh, my goodness, the quality of the pictures is probably more important than the quality of the actual story itself. Young children use the pictures to "read" the story for themselves, to form meaning the make connections with the text. Books with fun and engaging illustrations (like this book here) spark a young child's imagination. That's when they can fall in love with reading.

Eric Lister i fell in love with Lane Smith when i first read the post-mortem release of Hooray For Diffendoofer Day. Similar to his work in this book, it made me ...more
Aug 11, 2013 09:41AM · flag

As stated above, children's books might not "need" illustrations but picture books do.

I think illustrations work when they work with the story and/or aid in the readers understanding. I've read books that the story was great but the illustrations rendered it useless because the illustrations detracted from the reading of the story (the name of the particular book is not coming to me at this time). Likewise, I've read books where the story was mediocre at best but the illustrations worked so well, they actually elevated the story itself (Where the Wild Things Are).

So, no. I don't think that picture book can still be considered 'great' if the illustration are not, thus working against the text.

I love the illustrations for picture books and kids love them. They engage the children in the story, pull them in. Give them points of reference. One of my favorite illustrators is Jan Brett. Her illustrations are so beautiful and I love they way they lead you on to the next part of the story, great for helping the kids predict.

I agree that not all children's books need illustrating however good picture books use illustration to add to the meaning of text. Check out Anthony Browne, his illustrations add so much atmosphere to his books, especially 'gorilla' and 'a walk in the woods'.
Other books make use of illustrations to tell a slightly different story to the words, a good example of this is 'Guess who's coming to Dinner?'by Cathy Tincknell and John Kelly.
If you are looking for children's books with quality illustrations look for books awarded The Carnegie Medal or the Kate Greenaway Medal.

Eric Lister His illustrations are fantastic, especially his monkeys.

His illustrations of humans are a bit horrifying, though! :)

Aug 11, 2013 09:21AM · flag

Children's books do not always even need illustrations. *Picture* books do, but there are many types of children's books that do perfectly well without illustrations.

That said, it's hard to answer this question exactly since there are so many different ways to judge how well done illustrations are. You can look at the artistic merit (which is really pretty subjective). You can evaluate how well they portray the events of the story or even if the scenes chosen for illustration were the ones most appropriate and helpful to be portrayed visually. You can also look at how well the illustrations convey the tone or style of the text. And, of course, you can look at how appealing the illustrations are to readers, regardless of everything else. Any or all of those things can affect how important the illustrations are to the text and how they affect the impression the book leaves on the readers (or listeners).

What criteria do people use to establish if the illustrations are well done?

What illustrators impress you guys?

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