Before They Were Artists: Famous Illustrators as Kids

Etch. Apr. 2021. 64p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781328801548.
Gr 5-8–Haidle follows up Before They Were Authors with this volume that highlights the childhoods, career highlights, and personal lives of illustrators who played a role in the world of children’s art. As a teen, Wanda Gág supported her family with her art after her father’s passing and, with Millions of Cats, created the double-page spread. Where the Wild Things Are author Maurice Sendak endured frequent illness as a child and experienced the loss of those close to him as an adult. “Moomin” series creator Tove Jansson started her own art collective after being frustrated by the attitudes toward women in the art world. Jerry Pinkney struggled with dyslexia as a child; as an adult, he created fables and stories of social justice and brought his family into the picture book fold. Caldecott Honor illustrator Yuyi Morales drew inspiration from her experiences as an immigrant. The devastation of World War II and the knowledge that his family, who owned an airplane manufacturing company, had benefited from warfare influenced animator and Studio Ghibli cofounder Hayao Miyazaki, who was spurred to create work that drives young audiences to become more aware of the world around them. Haidle’s minimalist watercolor illustrations deftly blend elements from each artist in their section, and the work effectively conveys the essence of each subject.
VERDICT A testament to the “ineffable joy of creation,” as expressed by Wanda Gág, this is a strong addition to shelves and will inspire budding artists.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing