While there are so many illustrators who have left me, and my experience of a book, forever changed… Here are just a handful I’d like to extend my fanship towards!
For now (emphatically!), these are the magic pencils I want to tip a colourful hat to:
Ralph Steadman, Thank You. As always, you are a mad man and genius. With your help, the art-deco inspired illustrated version of Alice in Wonderland (which was perhaps one of my first loves as a child!) is every bit the warped and weird adventure it should always be.
Erin E. Stead, for your technique of combining woodblock printing and pencil that have sketched in my mind Amos McGee, the “early riser,” the chess-playing elephant (“who thought and thought before making a move”), the racing tortoise (“who never lost”), the pigeon-toed penguin (“who was very shy”), the sniffly rhinoceros (“who always had a runny nose”), and the bespectacled owl (“who was afraid of the dark”). You have brought the dear characters of A Sick Day for Amos McGee into my home with immeasurable tenderness.
And a thank you to Joel Stewart, for the dreamy and delightful depiction of Dr Moon in Tree Soup (A Stanley Wells Mystery).And for your Sneep, Snook, Loon and Knoo in Have You Ever Seen a Sneep? A treasure in my bookcase is your contribution to the Walkers Illustrated Classics’ collection, Tales of Hans Christian Andersen. The Little Mermaid you have rendered is as hauntingly sweet, sad and beautiful as Andersen intended, while your emperor’s nightingale remains steadfastly true and good in the face of Death.
To Timothy Basil Ering, your mouse of Kate DiCamillo’s imagination in that children’s classic, The Tale of Despereaux, is as physically tiny and equally big of heart. It is not hard to find one’s self endeared by that small “disappointment” of the brave but minute Despereaux of large-eared fame. And where DiCamillo’s unequivocal love speaks in leaps and bounds for her unique and often misfit characters, it is matched by yours.
Likewise, to Yoko Tanaka who has so seamlessly contributed to the “dark but warm” tale in Kate DiCamillo’s The Magician’s Elephant. I could think of no more a fitting magic pencil than yours for this city of Baltese where an orphan dreams of his missing sister and elephants. Your illustrations materialise the magician’s elephant that arrives shortly after with the same tragically charming art as DiCamillo’s story. Meaning only to “conjure a bouquet of lilies”, the reconciliations that ripple from the magician’s act, both painful and uplifting, demand a maturity that you have faultlessly delivered.
To you and so many others, from the humblest place in my heart, thank you for your beauty, for your priceless contribution to the world of children’s literature… I know, without a wavering doubt, that you have honed your craft for the old and young of heart alike! My fanship is forever yours. xx