The Art of the Matter

One of the things I love most about being an editor of books for children is the artwork. It’s always a good day when the art comes into the office.

I once worked on a book with a French illustrator who painted on linen. When the art came in, each piece was tightly rolled and much smaller than I was expecting. (I later learned that the artist worked smaller than actual size so that when the art was scanned and enlarged, the texture of the fabric became part of the composition. A gorgeous touch.) When we unrolled the art, the pieces practically exhaled cigarette smoke, and while I’m certainly not fond of that scent, it added another layer to an already somewhat enchanted experience.

Every now and then I work with an artist who is kind enough to give me a piece of original work. Even doodles on postcards are precious things.

Which brings me to the Children’s Book Council’s charity auction. Every year since 1919, the Council has commissioned a children’s book illustrator to create an original work of art commemorating Children’s Book Week (May 7-13 in 2012). The CBC has put five of these works up for auction to benefit their literacy foundation, Every Child a Reader.  (Here’s a write-up in Publisher’s Weekly, in case the auction site is down by the time you’re reading this.)

I’m coveting this piece by Don Freeman. Corduroy and A Rainbow of My Own are two of my childhood favorites (and they’re on my shelf, so expect to see them in this blog). Wouldn’t it be amazing to have a piece of Freeman’s art of my own?