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Picture books

HippieVan at 12:00AM, Dec. 11, 2015

My love for art - and narrative art in particular - began well before I had ever laid eyes on a comic book. As a child, my parents and my grandparents worked selling books for publishers. Every few weeks we would get a big box of sample books and it would be just like Christmas as I searched through for the kid's books. I grew up thinking that having a large home library was the norm. As a result I learned to read early and loved picture books, well after I had learned to read novels. By the age of five I had decided that I wanted to be an artist when I grew up. Here are some of the books that inspired me as a kid and that I still love to look through, for both story and art.

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile is fun and also super heartwarming. For those of you who haven't read it, it's about a very nice crocodile who lives with a human family. I think stories like this are responsible for my love of watercolours as a medium. I always associate watercolours with sort of safe, whimsical illustrations.

The Zoom Trilogy

The Zoom books are beautiful black-and-white stories about a cat who goes on various adventures. They still give me kind of a magical feeling when I look through them, and I can even remember the first time I found a Zoom book in my grandparents' house.

The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales

I imagine some of you are familiar with this one! I highly recommend The Stinky Cheese Man to adults and children alike. John Scieszka's stories are really funny and clever, and I adore Lane Smith's illustrations. The book is really thoughtfully designed, which - to be honest - isn't always the case with children's books, even when the illustrations are lovely. The typography doesn't just sit beside the illustrations; the pictures and the text are integrated in really interesting ways.

The Frog Prince: Continued

This is another Jon Scieszka book, but illustrated by Steven Johnson. It revolves around the not-so-happily-ever-after of the Frog Prince and his Princess, with the Prince deciding he'd like to go back to being a frog. (I had quite a few reimagined fairy tale books as a kid - they must have been trendy at the time.) I had a hard time deciding on a single illustration for this book, because I love the whole thing so much. It's so quirky and detailed and wonderful.

The Visitors Who Came to Stay

I remember being very naughty and stealing this from my grandparents' house because I liked it so much. It's actually a fairly mature story about broken families and stuff - I don't think I really understood it at the time - but each page is full of bizarre little details. You can spend ages on each page looking for everything strange.

Have a comic milestone, a community project or some comic-related news that you'd like to see here? Do you have original art for our newspost image database? Send it to me via PQ or at hippievannews(at), or leave a comment below!



bravo1102 at 4:09AM, Dec. 14, 2015

Even I had an illustrated children's Bible as a kid. Very nice clean illustrations like the paintings you see used to illustrate biblical scenes in the Watchtower. Nice technically superb illustration.

Gunwallace at 11:47PM, Dec. 13, 2015


Ironscarf at 6:11PM, Dec. 13, 2015

It's not Lyle's fault, it's guilt by association. He reminds me of a certain mascot.

HippieVan at 5:28PM, Dec. 13, 2015

It's really interesting that so many of you had illustrated bibles! I wasn't raised Christian so that wasn't at all a part of my childhood, although we had several picture books about Buddha. Those were always quite fun though. One of them I would have included here, actually, but I can't remember now what it was called. It was a series of one-page stories with beautiful black and gold illustrations. I'll have to see if I can track it down.

HippieVan at 5:25PM, Dec. 13, 2015

Aw, what's wrong with Lyle the Crocodile?

Ironscarf at 4:56PM, Dec. 13, 2015

The earliest picture books I remember seeing were deeply traumatizing. Realistic depictions of the tragic Little Tin Soldier and another, probably Sleeping Beauty, showing a hapless prince being cut to pieces in a forest of thorns, blood everywhere. I still shudder to think about them. That said, I'm finding that depiction of Lyle the crocodile every bit as disturbing.

PaulEberhardt at 1:44PM, Dec. 13, 2015

I had all kinds of that stuff when a kid and nowadays I'm attending a seminar about using picture narratives in English lessons, which also involves creating a picture book for those who want to - guess what I'm busy with ;) . I used to have one of these Bible thingies as well, but the paintings were so unappealing to me that it almost put me off religion. I then made the mistake of wondering what some of the stories would be like as slapstick cartoons, prompting my religion teacher to put me on detention quite often.

tupapayon at 3:17PM, Dec. 12, 2015

Once I made my mom mad when I said how exciting those stories were with all the blood and death. I compared the Bible to those violent movies she used to criticize... I'm the product of a very religious mom and a very political (radical, almost) dad...

KimLuster at 5:27AM, Dec. 12, 2015

My grandmother had one of those big white bibles people put on coffee tables, with lots of classic art in it - my first real exposure to such art. I'd leaf through it all the time, fascinated by the stories the art was telling (even though I didn't really get it). Years later, when I got to visit some of the museums in Europe, and actually saw some of those very paintings, it was like I'd stepped out of time - just wonderful (and a little poignant)! I was stunned at how huge some of those paintings are!!

HippieVan at 10:21PM, Dec. 11, 2015

That makes me a bit sad, tupapayon! Picture books were such a big part of my childhood - I definitely had several read to me every single night. Nice that your mom read to you though, even if it was only the bible! :)

tupapayon at 2:01PM, Dec. 11, 2015

The only children's book I remember is a Bible for children my mom used to read me... I moved to Asimov rather quickly in my preteens years... but I always loved the illustrations in many of he books I grew up reading... political and social stuff usually...

KimLuster at 9:59AM, Dec. 11, 2015

I had this book when I was a child - a big book of nursery rhymes, fairy tales, and short children's stories, but it had the dreamiest, softly done art. I remember the warm glow of light coming from a little mouse's house (with window and door) in the side of a tree, men floating in little boats down a mysterious subterranean river... I lost that book! And I don't remember the title... I've searched and searched for that book and that art (I'd recognize it instantly!) but so far to no avail... :( Probably for the best, as I'd pay a LOT for it if I found it...!

bravo1102 at 5:36AM, Dec. 11, 2015

My favorite though was Pocahontas by Ingri and Edgar Parin d'Aulaire. Some of the most beautiful and detailed lithographs. This book was bought for older sister as it was first published in 1946. We had a hardcover copy from the 1950s.

bravo1102 at 5:26AM, Dec. 11, 2015

I had the traditional fairy tale and nursery rhyme books some of which went back to my mother's childhood in the 1930s. I also had a few Howard Pyle adventure picture books. He was one of the most renowned illustrators of his day. I had another illustrated by Hal Foster the creator of Prince Valiant.

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