One of the many things I have enjoyed about becoming a mother is all of the time I spend reading books with my little girl. Aside from just the simple pleasure of snuggling up with her and sharing a book, as an illustrator it's been interesting to see both some truly amazing children's book illustration as well as the amount of really terrible examples of the art form.
This weekend past, we found an old copy of a Golden Book of the "The Three Bears". This edition was illustrated by F. Rojankovsky. I don't know anything about Rojankovsky, so I need to do a little homework there. His/Her illustration of Papa Bear discovering that his porridge had been sampled by someone, blew me away. Aside from just being very beautifully painted, I love its feral-ness, its darkness. I feel like we just don't see this kind of illustration in children's books anymore. Are we too worried about frightening children, perhaps? Isabel, my daughter, wasn't afraid though. I think the illustration helped her to understand why Goldilocks wanted to hightail it out of The Bears' cottage!
Furthermore, the illustration represents, to me at least, some change in our relationship to nature. In many of the older children's books we have, there is an attention to detailing the natural world, that seems to be lacking in manycontemporary books.The bear in the illustration above is undoubtably a BEAR. Not a cute, cuddly cartoon interpretation, but a feral (albeit porridge eating!), grumpy, lumbering bear. The illustrator has allowed for his bear-ness. This is not to say that there aren't contemporary picture books and illustrators that don't dumb down the material, it just seems like one has to dig around a bit more to find them.
I'm not sure I'm expressing all of this well, but I welcome any of your thoughts. I have been wanting to do some posts about how we represent and view the natural world currently, and in the case of those of us that are close to a little one (whether it be by being a parent, aunt, uncle, educator etc.) how we are passing that on to the next generation.