Three Impossibly Talented Illustrators Before Breakfast

h1 August 26th, 2010 by jules

I’ve decided—after Tuesday’s visit with Hiroe Nakata—to feature even more picture books this week that are perfect for your wee’est of children, as Hiroe’s illustrated titles are. I’m talkin’ some more preschool fare from three picture-book creators that rarely, if ever, steer you wrong for this age range: Ashley Bryan, Lois Ehlert, and Denise Fleming. All three of them brought us some colorful (in more ways than one) titles this year. In terms of palette, I mean to say it’s like a rainbow spontaneously combusted this morning here at 7-Imp.

That opening image comes from Ashley Bryan’s picture book adaptation of Cecil Alexander’s beloved hymn, “All Things Bright and Beautiful,” released at the beginning of this year by Atheneum.

If you saw the glorious collage art from 2007’s Let It Shine, another of Bryan’s picture book adaptations of a beloved hymn, you know what you’re in for with this new title: I can’t remember where I read that Ashley calls this “scissor art,” but I believe he does. “Every spread is a riot of colors, movement, and natural splendors,” writes Publishers Weekly, calling it “a triumphal vision of creation.” This title simply exudes joy, and School Library Journal calls it a masterpiece.

I’m happy to have these two spreads to show you this morning, but you really must hold this book in your hands and experience these vibrant collages with your own eyes. The end pages feature an image of Bryan’s mother’s embroidery scissors that he, in turn, used to cut the papers for all the collages in the book.

And if you’re a collage—or poetry—fan, Lois Ehlert brings us another wonderful title for the youngest of readers/listeners, this one a collection of poems (ranging from silly to factual) about how animals camouflage and adorn themselves. Lots of Spots, released by Beach Lane Books in July, features four-line verses about the spots, stripes, patches, and horns of various creatures. “The layers of handmade paper—brightly colored and often richly textured—that form each critter, crisply arranged on a white background, lend a sense of up-close immediacy,” writes Publishers Weekly. See for yourself. You can click to super-size these Ehlert spreads. I highly recommend it:

“Why won’t Mama let me get / this iguana for a pet? / ‘Its spots won’t blend,’ she declares, / ‘with our couch and flowered chairs.'”

“Spotted cow eats, / and by and by, / produces white milk / and brown cow pies.”
“Dappled spots / conceal newborn deer. / As the fawns grow, / their spots disappear.”
“A moth’s / flight / awaits / moonlight.”

And, finally, earlier this month, Henry Holt brought us Denise Fleming’s Sleepy, Oh So Sleepy — just in time for bed. This book features a line-up of sleepy creatures, “sleepy, oh so sleepy,” including the final spread of a wee human babe. Denise’s “pulp paintings”—a paper-making technique using colored cotton fiber poured through hand-cut stencils—are a wonder to see, giving this book “just the right tone,” writes the School Library Journal review.

You can click to enlarge these spreads. Enjoy!

* * * * * * *

ALL THINGS BRIGHT AND BEAUTIFUL. Copyright 2010 by Ashley Bryan. Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, New York, NY.

LOTS OF SPOTS. Copyright 2010 by Lois Ehlert. Published by Beach Lane Books, New York, NY.

SLEEPY, OH SO SLEEPY. Copyright 2010 by Denise Fleming. Published by Henry Holt and Company, New York, NY.

11 comments to “Three Impossibly Talented Illustrators Before Breakfast”

  1. A personal goal: to own every Ashley Bryan book available. I think that scissor art is the most beautiful stuff on earth.

    He kissed me on the head at the Newberry/Caldecott banquet. I had to sit down and cry. Seriously: I’m a big dork. But I love, love, love, love, love him.

  2. Tanita, I hear that he is a big ray of sunlight in a room! The back flap bio for him on this book says something like, he is one of the most beloved people in children’s books. Lucky you, meeting him!

  3. My four-year-old loves Denise Fleming’s books. We just read “Time to Sleep” at bedtime a couple nights ago.

  4. I have many picture books, but only a couple that are actually displayed in a glass case in my home. One is Ashley Bryan’s BEAUTIFUL BLACK BIRD. I met him in the hotel lobby at ALA this year. He is, to say the least, a national treasure. He didn’t kiss me on the top of the head. But he did shake my hand!
    And I just love Denise Fleming’s technique of paper pulp painting.

  5. This is a beautiful blog! I’m going to delve more to see if I can utilize some similar design elements. I especially love the headers and how you’ve integrated all of the images.

    I am Denise Fleming’s daughter, and I’ve been helping her build her blog. I wanted to see if I could link to and/or post part of this article to Denise’s blog? Thanks!

    (And, Ryan and Jim, I’m so pleased to hear that)

  6. You chose some excellent picture books with gorgeous illustrations. As a former Children’s Librarian, I strongly believe in vivid illustrations for picture books. Denise Fleming, Ashley Bryan, and Lois Ehlert do fabulous books.

    Judy Scuderi

  7. Ryan, it’s a great book, yes?

    Jim, yes, he is a national treasure.

    Indigo, of course you may link! I recognize your name from all those book dedications to you!

    Judy, I’m with you all the way…

  8. Ahley Byan’s scissor art and colors — just the best. And, hey, the way he RECITES his and others’ poetry is a joy to hear; such power and commitment. After I saw him at SCBWI Nationals this summer it made me rethink the bounds of own readings.

    Lois Ehlert’s spots are fab. Love her compostion.

    Denise Fleming’s baby made me yawn (!). Really.

    What a fun threesome Jules!

  9. Those all look amazing! I can’t get enough of pictures books that have such rich and gorgeous textures. Wonderful stuff.

  10. Hi, This is Susie. I do Ashley’s email and his editor shared this link with us yesterday. What fun. Thank you. I am wondering if we can print it out but it seems to lose all the pictures. A great threesome. Thank you, Jules.

  11. Hi, Susie. Print away! (But you’re probably right about the images.) Thanks for visiting.

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