Desirous of change? Create a movement…
“We believe… A picture book should be fresh, honest, piquant and beautiful.”
Bravo! We are in agreement…. “This is very cool,” says Phyllis Simon. But what is this you ask? A public declaration of values and ambitions? Could this be a manifesto? We certainly hope so; read on to get a look at The Picture Book Proclamation in its entirety.
Spear-headed by author Mac Barnett and joined by a group of talented writers and illustrators – many from the McSweeney’s stable – these talented artists have joined together in a sincere effort to save the picture book from obscurity and mediocrity. Printed in The Horn Book magazine in paid advertising space, The Proclamation is a welcome sign of life from the heart and soul of the book industry.
As spotted in Publisher’s Weekly, here, Mac Barnett has this to say: “The target audience for “A Picture Book Manifesto” is quite sweeping… “It is really an exhortation to everyone—writers, illustrators, editors, publishers, art directors, booksellers, librarians, and parents—that we could all be doing better. The only people who are doing fine are the kids themselves. I really believe the rest of us should be doing better.”
First up: Bravo! MAC BARNETT. He’s a brave and thoughtful guy if he’s convening artists to rescue the picture book as art form from going the way of the dodo. Aside from creating a movement, he’s programme director for a non-profit youth writing programme in L.A. called 826LA: in this role he sits on a board of directors with Dave Eggers (826 founder and McSweeney’s founder and publisher) and has wonderful actors and writers (including Spike Jonze, director of the film, Where the Wild Things Are), on the advisory board. Mac’s current release is the third in a humourous illustrated mystery series for middle graders titled, Brixton Brothers: It Happened on a Train.
SOPHIE BLACKALL: blame it on the 7 year-old intern (she had a birthday) and her passion for Ivy and Bean but Sophie Blackall was a hero at our house before The Proclamation. Sophie Blackall is the illustrator of the famed Ivy and Bean series; she was also the winner of the NYT best illustrated book of 2010 and a judge of the 2011 selections announced on Nov. 3, (the winners of which, you can find right here)! I’ve also included her latest book – more adult in content – of illustrated writings from “The Missed Opportunities” column in the New York Times, titled Missed Connections: Love Lost and Found.
CARSON ELLIS‘s most recent release is the novel Wildwood but most importantly here, she is the illustrator of The Proclamation. She is the intern illustrator for the band The Decemberists, has illustrated for the Lemony Snicket series, A Series of Unfortunate Events, and the Trenton Lee Stewart books, The Mysterious Benedict Society. You can find out more about Carson and her work here.
PHILIP C.STEAD AND ERIN E. STEAD: their collaborative effort titled A Sick Day for Amos McGee is a delightful way to introduce the world to two very fine artists on this list. This book won the Caldecott Medal in 2011 for best illustrated picture book and the Charlotte Zolotow Award / Honor Book for writing. This is a wonderful story about friendship with exquisite illustrations. A Sick Day for Amos McGee is the perfect, perfect, perfect book to embody The Proclamation’s call for a book that’s fresh, honest and beautiful. Ages 3 +
JON KLASSEN is next on our roster and this illustrated cover for the young adult book, The Watch that Ends the Night is an example of Jon Klassen’s illustration for other projects, that include many covers for magazines and designer for a U2 video.
Take a look at The Watch that Ends the Night. This new YA novel is a poetic examination of The Titantic described as “twenty-four haunting voices of the Titanic tragedy, as well as the iceberg itself… evoked in a stunning tour de force”.
JON KLASSEN is also the illustrator of the Incorrigibles and most recently he is the creator of his divinely funny solo effort I Want My Hat Back -( just sit down and read this, I’m advised by my other mentor, Leslie). I can’t help but ask myself as I peruse his tumblr – what isn’t Jon Klassen doing? Oh, he’s so talented and he’s Canadian…visit his tumblr.
MATTHEW MYERS is the illustrator of the new release, Clink, a charming story of a robot who makes music and toast but who is desperately in need of a friend who appreciates his unique talents. A lovely tale that assures us we can all find love. Ages 4 – 8.
DAN SANTAT is the creator of the middle-grader tour de force graphic novel Sidekicks, a very humourous and fantastic story of friendship for your little super-hero, reluctant reader and budding graphic novelist. Ages 7 +
Finally, BRIAN BIGGS is the author-illustrator – although the Proclamation makes a bid for undoing the seperation of these two artistic endeavours – of Everything Goes: on Land. This is his first solo endeavour and if you have a 4 – 8 year old who is in love with anything on wheels, this is your favourite new book. Vrrooommmmm.
Find the other artists on the Kidsbooks website here or better yet, come in and take a look.