There, I said it. Let the scandal ensue.
Brian Selznick, author and illustrator of The Invention of Hugo Cabret (2007) and Wonderstruck (2011), is a great talent. His words and art combine to produce works that spark curiosity about the world: how it works, where it’s going, where it’s been, and who lives in it. The debut of his distinctive style was with The Invention of Hugo Cabret, a story about a Parisian orphan boy in the 1930s who repairs an automaton that he finds in the garbage. The automaton, once repaired, draws a picture that leads Hugo on to a bigger mystery surrounding the crotchety old man who operates a toy booth in the city’s train station. (Interestingly, this was inspired by a salvaged mystery automaton at the Franklin Institute who signed the name of its maker after it was repaired– keep on dreaming, archaeologists.)
Hugo and the automaton
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.
Lion Loses His Pride