Archive for the ‘Illustrator crème de la crème’ Category


The Middle Passage: White Ships / Black Cargo, Tom Feelings. Dial, 2017, c1995.

You may know Tom Feelings’ The Middle Passage: White Ships / Black Cargo, as it was originally published in 1995. Now there is a newly published edition (released January, 2018), with introductions by Kadir Nelson and Kamili Feelings, and historical note by Dr. Sylviane A. Diouf. The introduction by Tom Feelings from the original 1995 edition remains, where he explains the inspiration and process– more than the art– of creating this wordless book that defies assigning an age level, although it is often recommended for teens. The verso of the title page states the “artwork was rendered using pen and ink and tempra on rice paper,” and “It was printed in tritone using 2 black and one gray, plus a neutral press varnish.” Feelings received the 1996 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award for this stunning and powerful series of illustrations. Find a video of this book online, created by Luke Dupuis using cinematic techniques to create a sense of movement, with music (Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings, performed by the New York Philharmonic conducted by Leonard Bernstein) at The Middle Passage.



The House Baba Built:  An Artist's Childhood in China, written and illustrated by Ed Young

The House Baba Built: An Artist’s Childhood in China, written and illustrated by Ed Young

Ed Young was the inaugural speaker for the Butler Lecture at Dominican University’s Graduate School of Library and Information Science on February 22, and I was lucky enough to be there!

Young, widely known for his Caldecott Award winning book Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China and many other books, spoke about his recent The House Baba Built: An Artist’s Childhood in China. He showed slides and related how he went back to Shanghai to find that house, and while it took some looking because the street had been built up, he finally did pinpoint the four-family home his father built and where he grew up. His stories about the history of the house were engaging, such as how he was gracious to the current owner and was thus invited inside, why his father included a swimming pool inside the home, how a worker died building the home, and other childhood memories of a family haven during wartime. The book itself is a biography, a family history, a glimpse into this historical period in China, and is stunning with fold-out pages, drawings, collage art, and photos. The paper itself is a tactile treat, and the book encourages lingering.

Ed Young signs my books after the Butler Lecture at Dominican University

Ed Young signs my books after the Butler Lecture at Dominican University

Thank you Susan Roman, Thom Barthelmess, and others at Dominican for this delightful evening with Ed Young. I can’t wait until next year’s Butler Lecture when Jane Yolen is scheduled to be the speaker!

I had the pleasure this past weekend to attend the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC, a division of the American Library Association) 2012 Institute in Indianapolis. One of the closing session speakers was illustrator Bryan Collier. This was the second time I have had the pleasure to listen to Collier, and each time I was riveted by his talk.

Collier shared that the inspiration for his watercolor and collage illustrations is his grandmother, who was a quiltmaker. This immediately becomes apparent when viewing the illustrations closely. Overall, the illustrations can appear blocky (yes, like a quilt!), but close viewing reveals intricate aspects.

Dave the Potter, by Laban Carrick Hill and illustrated by Bryan Collier

Brenda Dales and Bryan Collier at the 2012 ALSC Institute

Collier focused his talk on Dave the Potter (2010, by Laban Carrick Hill), a book about the man enslaved in South Carolina who crafted thousands of pots. Many of these pots were replete with brief poems which revealed that Dave had learned to read and write. Collier explained some of his decisions in creating the art for this book, such as including shackles in the illustrations to remind that Dave was a slave. He also explained some of the back story, stating it is reported that Dave lost a leg in a railroad accident, which prevented him from kicking the treadle wheel, so an armless slave was brought forth to do that part of the work. Collier shared he chose not to include the armless slave in his illustrations, as that would be difficult to see and would present a distraction. Listening to Collier express how he struggled with ways to visually present this powerful story of a man who was enslaved but was devoted to art was a gripping experience.

Bryan Collier’s work pulls one in. His art is the type you can’t stop examining. He has illustrated over twenty books for young people, and hopefully there will be at least that many more

More of Bryan Collier’s art can be seen at his website, and a list of his books is available at his entry on Wikipedia.