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WAYS OF TELLING by Leonard S. Marcus


Conversations on the Art of the Picture Book

by Leonard S. Marcus

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-525-46490-5
Publisher: Dutton

A series of interviews illuminates the perspectives of a variety of picture-book creators, both authors and illustrators. Fourteen luminaries, including Mitsumasa Anno, Karla Kuskin, Iona Opie, Tana Hoban, and Charlotte Zolotow, discuss their backgrounds, motivations, and approaches. The interviews were conducted over a span of years, from the late ’80s to the present, and provide valuable insights into the workings of the minds behind some of the most beloved picture books of the past half-century. Marcus (Side by Side, 2001, etc.) mines his subjects’ childhood memories for their connection to their books, resulting in Eric Carle’s fascinating reminiscences of his youth in Nazi Germany and James Marshall’s yearnings for a grand history growing up in Texas. Most subjects yield easily to the interviewer’s probes—Rosemary Wells, Jerry Pinkney, and Maurice Sendak speak freely of their growth and their art, for instance—but William Steig proves to be a tougher nut to crack, which results in an occasionally hilarious interview punctuated by his wife Jeanne’s attempts to keep him on track. To a greater or a lesser extent, each subject discusses very seriously the ways he or she works to create a book that will resonate with children and his or her reasons for choosing children as an audience. As a whole, the collection represents a valuable contribution to the scholarship of children’s books, but its most eager audience is likely to be among adult professionals rather than children themselves, except when they are guided to it by motivated teachers and librarians. A sheaf of color plates with illustrations from each of the subjects’ works completes the package. (Nonfiction. 12+)