I picked up two friends in the pre-dawn hours on a crisp December morning. We traveled to the train station in New Jersey to meet more writers, then into New York where a few others joined our Eastern PA SCBWI group. Amid shoppers and commuters, students and tourists, we made our way to the Society of Illustrators on East 63rd Street to view the 39th annual exhibit of children’s book illustration.
In a picture book, the words alone cannot always convey the depth of emotion that writers want readers to feel and carry with them after the last page is turned. Some picture books tell the story through images alone, while with others it takes the complement of words and images juxtaposed across the page to complete the task. As chair of this year’s show, author and illustrator Laura Vaccaro Seeger explains, “In creating the illustrations, the artist has an opportunity to expand the narrative in ways that the text alone cannot. And just as every single word in a picture book is carefully chosen, so are the brushstrokes, pencil lines, colors, content, perspectives, designs, and compositions.”
What an honor it was to see these images come to life! I marveled at the cut paper three dimensional images of Brendan Wentzel from A Stone Sat Still, Corinna Luyken’s use of color in My Heart, and Jim Lamarche’s expressive faces in Puma Dreams (by Tony Johnston), along with many, many others. It was a special treat to have illustrator Merilees Brown in our group, whose illustration from Caspian Finds a Friend (by Jacqueline Veissid) was chosen for the show.
“The Original Art 2019” runs through January 4, so if you happen to be in New York for the holidays, I highly recommend a visit. You won’t be disappointed.