3 of the Best Children’s Book Illustrators who Tickled Our Imagination

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When you were a kid, you were fascinated by the idea of how books could carry you to a world of wonders. Heidi told you to find comfort in talking to God; The Little Red Riding Hood taught you how to keep your mother’s words in mind; The Little Prince, with his philosophical story lines, guided you on different adventures of life; and Peter Pan made you believe in Neverland and taught you not to grow up too fast.

These characters taught us a lot of things; however, we apt to give credit to the ones who made these children storybooks’ characters visible through their illustrative magic—children’s book illustrators.

The following is a list of notable children’s book illustrators whose stories and experiences help broaden our imagination.

Jessie Willcox Smith

Jessie Willcox Smith

Smith was “one of the greatest pure illustrators” during the Golden Age of American illustration, and was one of the highest paid illustrators during her time. She’s a prominent name in the world of illustration art, who, for forty years, prolifically illustrated 250 illustrations for periodicals, 200 for magazine covers, and 60 for books, prints, calendars, and posters.

Smith was known for her illustration styles typically of sympathetic depictions that focus on appreciation of children in widespread culture.

Smith’s style transitioned radically from using dark lined borders to brightly colored illustrations, to later on softened lines and colors until they almost faded.

Some of Smith’s children’s book illustrations are primarily concerned with children and motherly love, including Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, The Rhymes of Real Children by Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley, and Heidi by Johanna Spyri.

Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss)

Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss)

Early in Geisel’s life, at Dartmouth College, he was caught drinking gin with friends which caused him to lose his position as the editor-in-chief of his college publication. But because of his persistence, he continued to work on the publication without the administrator’s knowledge. He later on used the pen name, Dr. Seuss.

Geisel’s later years were uneasy when William Ellsworth Spaulding, director of the Education Division at Houghton Mifflin, challenged him to “bring back a book children can’t put down” after an issue on illiteracy among schools due to some plainly boring books. This was when The Cat in the Hat came to life using 236 of the words proposed to him.

Dr. Seuss has been known as the storybook illustrator of some of our favorites, such as How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1957) and Horton Hears a Who! (1955). Geisel’s illustration styles for children’s books has been renowned all over the world, and awarded because of his vocabulary’s simplicity and his illustration’s elaborate style.

Arthur Rackham

Arthur Rackham

Rackham was acknowledged for having a bent on pen, ink fantasy, and black-and-white book illustration styles. He works were noted with their distinctive angularity and high detail.

Rackham has illustrated more than 60 books and has worked for prominent stories such that of Shakespeare, Dickens, Poe, among many famous authors. His works were also notable in Grimm’s Fairy Tales.

Rackham, widely regarded as one of the leading children’s book illustrators, produced works that have become very popular and respected until today.

The impact of stories often depends on how an artist bring characters to life. But these children’s book illustrators did not only create our favorite childhood tales and characters, but they’ve also given us fun memories, and the spark to learn, imagine, and believe in the impossible.

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