By Leonard S. Marcus
432 pages, hardcover, $75
Published by Abrams Books
Though typically designed at 32 pages, children’s books contain and represent vast worlds in themselves. Each participates in a global exchange of ideas, innovation and imagination. In Pictured Worlds, renowned historian and curator Leonard S. Marcus highlights 101 of the most influential children’s book illustrators across two centuries—a list including household names like Beatrix Potter, Richard Scarry and Dr. Seuss, as well as lesser-known artists around the world.
But Pictured Worlds does far more than present noteworthy children’s book illustrators and their various styles. It also celebrates the deeply rooted cultural histories reflected in picture books. Every illustrator is featured in a meticulously researched profile that showcases their biography, spotlights a significant book, and examines the contexts of the book’s design, publication and reception. In exploring these details, Marcus reveals how children’s picture books intertwine with a much broader cultural discourse. He includes commentary from other artists and critics throughout and takes care to mention when the featured illustrators were impacted by political unrest, faced backlash, inspired social change and worked in other industries that may have shaped their creative perspective—corporate branding, sculpture and advertising being three among many.
With more than 400 pages containing more than 500 images (including many previously unpublished preliminary artworks), Pictured Worlds unveils the stories behind the stories that have entertained and educated generations around the world. It is an engaging, illuminating reference brimming with surprises: a must-read for illustrators, art historians and all who are passionate about the power of children’s books. —Maya P. Lim