26 August 2017

Picturing an Author-Illustrator as Her Book

Here’s a nice quote from John Rocco, artist of the upcoming picture-book biography Big Machines: The Story of Virginia Lee Burton, written by Sherri Duskey Rinker. Burton was known to friends and relatives as “Jinnee.”

At first it was hard to wrap my head around the idea of illustrating a book about another children’s book artist without just showing her drawing…

But a lot of Jinnee’s personality came through as I went through her sketches and books. I suddenly realized that she was the embodiment of The Little House. She had an appreciation for technology and moving forward, but was much more closely tied to a simpler life. To portray her symbolically as her book’s little house, which was surrounded by daisies, I pictured Jinnee wearing a skirt emblazoned with daisies.

And when I learned that she was a dancer, I wanted her dancing across the page as she created her art, and tried to capture the sense of flow and movement across the pages of her own books, and to pay homage to her meticulous sense of design.
Rocco is quoted in this Publishers Weekly article about the new book and reissues of two of Burton’s picture books, including The Little House.

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