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Picture Book Quotes

"...I feel incredibly fortunate to have had a career where I could publish without compromise, and could publish, as the cliché goes, authors and not just books." ~Susan Hirschman in "Making the Transition" from School Library Journal

"Picture books are for everybody at any age, not books to be left behind as we grow older. The best ones leave a tantalising gap between the pictures and the words, a gap that is filled by the reader’s imagination, adding so much to the excitement of reading a book." ~Anthony Browne, UK Children's Laureate, 2009-2011

""The most important thing is to have the small world I create in a picture perfectly match the words of the story, so that even if it is a make-believe world in the eyes and minds of the readers, everything you see is real." ~Robert Byrd

""Design is an essential part of any picture book. It is the first aspect of a book that a reader judges. It is the frame-work for the text and illustration. It is the subtle weave of words and pictures that allows both to tell one seamless tale." ~John Scieszka in "Design Matters" from the The Horn Book

""Design exists as a supportive bit of stagecraft. Sometimes an elaborate set is most effective and sometimes a bare stage and a few lighting cues provide all that's needed." ~David Saylor in "Look Again: An Art Director Offers Some Pointers on Learning to See" from School Library Journal

"BookstackGirlPeek"The picture book is an art form that is designed specifically for children, but I feel that it can be appreciated and enjoyed by all ages." ~Steven Kellogg

""Every illustrator uses his imagination, looks for the best surface to work upon and the right tools for the job. ~Dilys Evans in Show & Tell: Exploring the Fine Art of Children's Book Illustration

""Through my photographs and through open eyes I try to say, 'Look!' There are shapes here and everywhere, things to count, colors to see and always, surprises." ~Tana Hoban

""A book, being a physical object, engenders a certain respect that zipping electrons cannot. Because you cannot turn a book off, because you have to hold it in your hands, because a book sits there, waiting for you, whether you think you want it or not, because of all these things, a book is a friend. It’s not just the content, but the physical being of a book that is there for you always and unconditionally." ~Mo Willems

""A picture book is a fiendishly difficult thing to write, let alone illustrate. It took at least 50 drafts and more than two years for me to whittle 50,000 words to a workable 500." ~Mark Haddon

""I try in my books to catch a fleeting moment and an emotion in a way that touches children and makes them want to respond." ~Tana Hoban

""You have to write whichever book it is that wants to be written. And then, if it's going to be too difficult for grownups, you write it for children." ~Madeleine L'Engle

""In every generation, children's books mirror the society from which they arise; children always get the books their parents deserve." ~Leonard S. Marcus, children's literature critic

""When it is very well done, it is an artistic achievement worthy of respectful examination and honor. Even failures, and especially near misses, deserve the kind of attention and understanding given to serious creative endeavors." ~Karla Kuskin on reviewing picture books

""A picturebook is text, illustrations, total design; an item of manufacture and a commercial product; a social, cultural, historic document; and foremost, an experience for a child. As an art form it hinges on the interdependence of pictures and words, on the simultaneous display of two facing pages, and on the drama of the turning of the page. On its own terms its possibilities are limitless. ~Barbara Bader, children's literature critic

""What is the use of a book," thought Alice "without pictures or conversation?" ~from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

""A picture book is a dialogue between two worlds: the world of images and the world of words." ~Leonard S. Marcus, children's literature critic

""There is a receptive impressionable quality of mind, whether in young or old, which we call childlike. A Fresh direct vision, a quickly stimulated imagination, a love of symbolic and typical form, with a touch of poetic suggestion, a delight in frank and gay color, and a sensitiveness to the variations of line, and contrasts of form~these are some of the characteristics of the child, whether they be grown up or not. Happy are they who remain children in these respects." ~Walter Crane, 19th century illustrator

""It will be the artists, not the scientists, who will show us the way to build a better world for all children." ~Bertha Mahony Miller

""Child! Do not throw this book about; refrain from the unholy pleasure of cutting all the pictures out." ~Hilaire Belloc

""There are limitless possibilities available to the artist, who sets up relationships and tensions between the illustrations and the text, allowing magical discoveries and subtle revelations to emerge in the areas between." ~Steven Kellogg from his website

""Design is the story's soundtrack, everywhere and nowhere at the same time. It's essential, yet only works when it serves the characters of the story, not itself." ~Mo Willems in an interview with Drawn!

""I compose a book very much as if I were making a piece of sculpture. When I feel the bulk has body and the right proportions, I begin to work on the detail. I work with the pictures and the text at the same time and make one supplement the other. ~Leo Politi, from his Caldecott Medal acceptance speech.

""The first task of an illustrator is to be in full sympathy with the writer. No matter how splendid and exciting the drawings may be, if they work against the story, the picture book is a failure." ~Errol Le Cain

""I try to draw as little as possible, keep it down to a bare minimum With each new book I think , can I do it again? Can I pull it off again? There are terrible moments when I feel I have lost it and I have no ability. But then it all gets back on course." ~John Burningham, as quoted for the 2003 Magic Pencil Exhibition.

""Line is the most important element in my work--the line is the basis of the whole thing. If it works in line it works; if it doesn't work in line it's no good. To me colour always comes second." ~Tony Ross, as quoted for the 2003 Magic Pencil Exhibition.

"BookstackBoyPeek"When I got into books I discovered lots of other aspects that also sustained my interest--trying to imagine the characters and the ways they move and the kind of expressions they make, and then getting the right kind of drawing for the particular book, and disposing the pictures properly so that they can help each other and make a good sequence." ~Quentin Blake, as quoted for the 2003 Magic Pencil Exhibition.

""I think books for children should be wild and adventurous. They should offer you something you can escape into, something you don't get later on--it might be the only chance. It's the only time that children can develop their imagination and it's so porous it's vital to fill it with extraordinary things, not mundane, boring things." ~Emma Chichester Clark, as quoted for the 2003 Magic Pencil Exhibition.

""When I'm working on a picture in a children's book, I like to think of the space I am working in as a small stage. This stage is filled with characters like an opera. In each scene, the most important characters sing the lines that tell the story, and must be seen right away. The other characters on the stage help to tell the story, but they are really secondary and part of the background, like scenery." ~Robert Byrd

""It wasn't that we didn't like it. That exuberant call-and-response text, Brenda's willful head of hair, the candid defiance of both words and pictures--what's not to like? Here's the thing, though: we didn't know if we were allowed to like it." ~Horn Book editor Roger Sutton on Nappy Hair by Carolivia Herron.

""The process of writing a children’s narrative can be very lengthy and problematic. It is like a puzzle to solve. All the pieces have to fit in the right place and at times the pieces are hard to find." ~Natalie Russell, in an interview with Creative Choices.


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