Children’s book illustration today

One of the best ways  to investigate just what quality children’s literature looks like in 2020 is to look at two very different books shortlisted by the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) for awards during Book Week in October 2020 – see full shortlist HERE..

The Good Son: A Story from the First World War, Told in Miniature

Winner, 2020 Young Peoples History Prize, NSW Premier’s History Awards
Shortlisted, 2020 Picture Book ff the Year – Children’s Book Council Australia awards
1st Prize 2019 Prix Sorcières  – France’s most prestigious award for children’s books

The Good Son , based on true events, was written by Pierre-Jacques Ober and illustrated by Jules Ober and Felicity Coonan.

Small plastic figures in scaled landscapes have been shaped to create tableaux of each incident and moment important to the story. Then these scenes have been photographed using a shallow depth-of-field, which creates luminous and highly charged effects. As readers, we do not feel out of place for having deep and strong emotions as we look at these scenes. The text is minimal, and runs below the images on each page. Often just one short sentence is enough to move the story along

The detailed work put into the tiny miniature figurines makes for compelling viewing. The story is told through crowd scenes, snowy landscapes, isolated figures and maps. Both black and white and colour are used, as well as fire and flickering candlelight.  Endpapers describe the process used to create the exceptional piece of artwork.

Wilam: A Birrarung story

Honour Book for the 2020 CBCA Eve Pownall Award for Information Books
Shortlisted for 2020 Environment Award for Children’s Literature : Picture Fiction Category

Wilam was written by Aunty Joy Murphy & Andrew Kelly and illustrated by Lisa Kennedy.

Wilam, meaning ‘home’ tells the story of ‘Birrarung’, the Yarra River. Bunjil, the wedge-tailed eagle, creator spirit of the Wurundjeri people, that oversees the journey of the Yarra River from the natural habitats at the start of the river down to the urbanised habitats of the bay.

Throughout the journey, the flora, fauna and life that call the Yarra River home are captured in the details of both the written and illustrated story, with eye-catching accuracy in the illustrations and descriptions of animalistic behaviour. The beautiful illustrations reflect modern Aboriginal art styles. Visual and verbal narratives are  interwoven, as is the integration of Woiwurrung language into the English text..