The “Draw Me A Story: A Century of Children’s Book Illustration” exhibit at the Frick Collection in Pittsburgh is a rare treat. The pieces in the exhibit range from Randolph Caldecott and Kate Greenaway to modern illustrators such as Maurice Sendak and Chris Von Allsburg with a wide range of mediums, subjects, and styles.
I was struck by L. Leslie Brooke’s piece of the handsomely clad bear striding down the path in front of the lion from Johnny Crow’s Garden as seen below. L. Leslie Brooke (1862-1940) was an English illustrator and occasional author of children’s books. Some of his better known works include Johnny Crow’s Garden, The Jumblies and Other Nonsense Verses (written by Edward Lear and illustrated by Brooke), and The Golden Goose Book. Brooke’s work was my favorite of the collection because of the gentle humor with an emphasis on facial expressions. The composition of an illustration can set the scene with each character in his or her place, but facial expressions are what deliver the emotion. In my opinion, Brooke’s adeptness in depicting expressions and body language might be credited to his deafness if he depended upon visual emotional signals in everyday life.