Sunday, December 22, 2019

Children's Picturebooks: The Art of Visual Storytelling

Children's Picturebooks: The Art of Visual Storytelling is a survey text covering the history and development of juvenile graphic literature from the 15th century onward. Originally published in 2012, this second edition is due out 7th Jan from Laurence King. It's 200 pages and will be available in paperback format.

This is a comprehensive overview, lushly illustrated and well written. The layout is logical and appealing. It's slanted toward the educator/historian, but the language is not overly academic and it's perfectly accessible to layman readers. The chapters are arranged thematically: history, illustration, children's books and children, iconography (an unusually well written coverage of the subject with a lot of good information about the interplay of words and images to tell a story), age-appropriate themes in children's literature (death, sex, violence, etc), print and process, non-fiction, and the juvenile publishing industry. Scattered throughout the book are also short case studies and references along with essays by industry professionals, educators, and artists.

There are numerous references and annotations as well as abundant illustrations from children's literature both historical and modern. This would be a valuable reference for academics, authors, and educators learning what is effective in terms of story and illustration and why they work. The annotations (with internet links, books, and periodicals) and index are comprehensive and full of sources for further reading. This would be a superlative textbook for a classroom setting for teacher training as well as a valuable resource for working teachers and librarians to mine for book recommendations for their young students and patrons.

Building a lifelong love of reading is such an important responsibility for teachers and parents and being able to make an informed decision about books is vital. I found the 5th chapter on the suitability of certain subjects as they relate to children's books very enlightening for me especially (since I was never forbidden any books that caught my fancy at the public library as a child - including a huge library copy of Gray's Anatomy which led to months of questions from me to my sainted parents and teachers), but the entire book is full of good information.

I don't have the first edition for comparison purposes, so I can't speak to the differences between the 1st and 2nd, but the 2nd edition is attractively and well formatted. I received an electronic ARC for review purposes, so considerations about the physical volume are beyond the scope of this review. I can say that my experience of the publisher's other books' quality has been consistently positive.

Five stars

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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