The synthesis of story & illustration

When I was little my favorite picture books were the ones where I could get lost in the words and the pictures. Something magical would happen as I heard the words read aloud to me and I stared at the illustrations trying to figure out a way to live inside them.

Friendship Valley by Wolo was the book my mom read to me even though, as a busy single parent, it was a little too long for her to read every night. But what I really wanted to was to stare at the page that showed the huge tree with the extensive root system that doubled as the characters’ homes. I wanted to see inside each of the animal’s spaces- how they decorated, where they ate their food, who slept in what spot.

Friendship Valley by Wolo

Picture books are meant to be read aloud, with young eyes held captive by illustrations that will maintain a hold in their minds forever, linked to the best parts of childhood. As we get older some of the titles and authors fade from memory, but our favorite images last forever. The synthesis of the story with the illustration is what makes a children’s picture book great.

Here are some more of my favorite children’s illustrators:

Gyo Fujikawa

Favorite books: Night Before Christmas, Oh, What a Busy Day!, and Can You Count?

Robert McCloskey

Favorite books: Blueberries for Sal, Make Way for Ducklings

Maurice Sendak

Favorite books: Where the Wild Things Are, The Night Kitchen, Little Bear

Barbara Cooney

Favorite books: Miss Rumphius, Hattie and the Waves, Island Boy

Hilary Knight

Favorite books: Eloise, Mrs.Piggle-Wiggle, Cinderella

Ezra Jack Keats

Favorite books: The Snowy Day, Whistle for Willie, Over in the Meadow

Jan Brett

Favorite books: The Mitten, The Hat, Goldilocks and the Three Bears

Christian Robinson

Favorite books: Gaston, Last Stop on Market Street, The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade

Renata Liwska

Favorite books: Red Wagon, The Quiet Book, The Loud Book

Jon Klassen

Favorite books: I Want My Hat Back, Extra Yarn, Pax

So whether you’re stocking up for your own child’s collection or starting someone else’s child off in the right direction, consider some of these titles. Feel free to share some of your favorites with us in the comments, we’d love to know what stories made a big impression on you!