Focus on Illustrators
While many young people are familiar with children's book authors, they're often unaware of the names of the people behind the illustrations.
Be sure to check the master list of Caldecott illustrators.
In Their Own Words
Watch interviews and learn more about the illustrators.
Watch video interviews with Caldecott winners from Reading Rockets:
- Tomie dePaola illustrator of Strega Nona
- Lois Ehlert illustrator of Color Zoo
- Jerry Pinkney illustrator of Noah's Ark
- Brian Selznick illustrator of The Invention of Hugo Cabret
- David Shannon illustrator of No, David!
- Peter Sís illustrator of Starry Messenger: Galileo Galilei
- Lane Smith illustrator of The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales
- Chris Van Allsburg illustrator of The Polar Express
- Mo Willems illustrator of Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late!
Watch video with Caldecott winners from Library of Congress:
- David Wiesner: Book Fest 07
- Tony DiTerlizzi: Book Fest 06
- Mo Willems: Book Fest 06
- Jerry Pinkney: Book Fest 05
- David Macaulay: Bookfest 04
- Eric Rohmann: Bookfest 03
- Pinkney Family I: Bookfest 02
- Pinkney Family II: Bookfest 02
- Allen Say: Bookfest 02
- Brian Selznick: Bookfest 02
- David Wiesner: Bookfest 02
Watch video and listen to audio interviews at Barnes and Noble Meet the Writers:
Listen to National Public Radio audio programs related to Caldecott illustrators:
- The Intricate, Cinematic World of 'Hugo Cabret' with Brian Selznick
- 'The Wall' Brings a Grim World Back to Life with Peter Sis
- A Lasting Passion for Art with Leo and Diane Dillon
- William Steig Caldecott Medal Anniversary
- Remembering Cartoonist William Steig
- Remembering Children's Author Robert McCloskey
- 'Home of the Brave' with Allen Say
Create your own video or audio program based on a Caldecott illustrator using the following ideas:
- Create a slide show of favorite pictures by the illustrator and create voice over using PhotoStory.
- Nominate a particular image by an illustrator for the "best of Caldecotts" award. Create a nomination speech to go with the still image using Audacity.
- Create a PowerPoint scrapbook of you favorite illustrator. Create narration to describe the techniques used in creating the illustrations and background information about the illustrator.
Find the Connections
The world of children's illustrators is remarkably small. Seek out the connections.
All in the Family. Many authors and illustrators like to work with family members. For instance, the Pinkneys are a family of children's authors and illustrators. Leo and Diane Dillon and Arnold and Anita Lobel are husband and wife teams. Can you find other connections among authors and illustrators? Create a bulletin board called "Famous Families" that shows these relationships.
Illustrators in School. Chris Van Allsburg Caldecott winner for The Polar Express was a faculty member at Rhode Island School of Design where David Wiesner went to school. Compare the illustrations. Can you see any of the same techniques? Which ones? Other alumni include Steven Kellogg and David Macaulay. David Wiesner was a student of Van Allsburg. Compare the illustrations. Can you see any of the same techniques? Which ones?
Illustrator Influence. In the article David Wiesner: The Master of Make-believe, Wiesner comments that he has been influenced by William Pene du Bois, Maurice Sendak, Raymond Briggs, and Chris Van Allsburg. Determine the people who influenced your favorite illustrators. Use Illustrators from Reading is Fundamental for ideas.
Illustrators Websites and Blogs
One of the best ways to get to know an illustrator is to check out their website or blog. Many illustrators have publisher websites and fan websites, so be sure to look for the official website that's supported by the illustrator.
Illustrator Websites. Many illustrators maintain great websites to share their work. Evaluate illustrator websites. Which do you think is best? Why? If you were an illustrator, what would you put on your website? Find other websites at SCBWI and CBC.
- Mary Azarian illustrator of Snowflake Bentley
- Tomie dePaulo illustrator of Strega Nona
- Tony DiTerlizzi illustrator of The Spider and the Fly
- Ed Emberley illustrator of Drummer Hufff
- Denise Fleming illustrator of In the Small, Small Pond
- Kein Henkes illustrator of Kitten's First Full Moon
- Susan Jeffers illustrator of Three Jovial Huntsmen
- Ezra Jack Keats illustrator of The Snowy Day
- Gerald McDermott illustrator of Raven
- Peggy Rathmann illustrator of Officer Buckle and Gloria
- Peter Sis illustrator of Tibet, Starry Messenger, and The Wall
- William Steig illustrator of The Amazing Bone
- Janet Stevens illustrator of Tops & Bottoms
- David Wiesner illustrator of Tuesday, The Three Pigs, Flotsam. Sector 7
Illustrator Blog. Some illustrators like to share what they're doing with their fans using a blog. Explore illustrator blogs:
Illustrator Styles, Tips and Tricks
While some illustrators jump right into creating illustrations, others use sketches, photographs, and even models to help visualize the setting and characters.
Models. David Weisner uses sketches and models before creating his illustrations. Build a model and use it for inspiration for a drawing and a story. Explore the creative process David Wiesner uses to create his illustrations. Read about how Janet Stevens uses props in creating her illustrations.
Characters. Illustrators look at the world around them for characters. Read Models to see how Brian Selznick found the characters for The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Invent your own characters. Who will be the inspiration for your drawings?
Style. Each illustrator has a unique style. Examine Stinky Cheese Man. Lane Smith has a very unique artistic style. You can find examples at his website. Try replicating his style. What are some of the features of this style? What makes his work unique? What is your style? Write a critique like those you've found in book reviews that describes your techniques, approaches, and style.
The Growth of an Illustrator. How does the work of an illustrator evolve over time? Select an illustrator. Gather books by that illustrator. How has the illustrator's technique changed over time? What do you like and dislike about these changes?
Many authors such as Marc Simont have had long careers that include other work such as creating political cartoons.
Who Will Be Next?
Once someone wins the Caldecott medal they become well-known. Who will be next? Go to the Featured Artist section of the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators. Explore each of the illustrators featured. Who do you think will win a Caldecott medal someday? Why?
Read the guidelines for becoming a featured artist. Create your own short biography (first name only and without contact information) and choose three samples of your artwork.
Place your project on at the Young Illustrators Wiki.