Monday, 16 March 2015

Little Big Books

Little Big Books 
Edited by Hendrik Hellige & Robert Klanten 

Little Big Books is another gem in the very slowly increasing crown of books about picture books and their makers.  Another impressively weighty book on the subject, this is not a book to carry around and glance at on the train.  What you really have to appreciate is that the makers and publishers of these books are willing to create them at such large sizes, allowing the art work, their subject, to really take precedence.  It is all well and good discussing illustration but what we really want is to see it, and the makers of these books know that.

Little Big Books provides a brief history on the subject of the picture book, and a short biography of illustrators such a Tove Jansson and Bruno Munari, who may have inspired the talent featured in the book.  What follows is a written and visual introduction to some of the newest, most exciting picture book talent around.  Each illustrator is given a double-page spread to showcase their artwork, alongside a short biography of the artist themselves.

Not content as a mere showcase for talent we are also treated to five in-depth interviews including a conversation with Kitty Crowther, and Martin Salisbury’s views on ‘the history, make-up and psychology of picture books’.  Also provided is an illustrators’ index, which details the websites of everyone featured in the book, so that you can further investigate the works of the illustrators you already know, or are just learning to love.

The real strength of this book is the diversity of its illustrators, and anyone who has visited the Bologna Children's Book Fair is sure to recognise some of the international talent on display from the past few Illustrators Exhibitions.  It is a real showcase for how exciting, colourful, obscure and wonderful picture book art can be.  It will also be a real eyeopener to anyone who hasn’t been exposed to picture books beyond their local bookstore, showcasing innovative design and originality.  From bold, graphic design work to intricate papers cuts; from the ornate and delicate, fragile and painterly, to the mesmerising, beautiful and strange; for anyone who has not experienced the darker, more daring European picture book, this is sure to be a real treat. 

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