Picture Book Illustrations that Stuck With You

  • Hi everybody,

    I was thinking about picture books I liked when I was a child, and how there are a few images I still think about all these years later. What books had images that you still remember? Would you share them with me if you have an image, or tell me about them? Why did you like a particular illustration (or illustrations)?

    When I was a kid, there were 3 books with images that I loved and still remember. One of them was a library book whose name I don't recall, but it had an image of an old lady junebug. I don't have any idea what the rest of this book was about, but I'd love to see that one illustration again. I remember the illustration seemed very polished and tight and realistic, as far as junebugs dressed as old ladies can be realistic.

    A second book was about a feral cat that the community took care of. I don't remember the name of the book off-hand, but at the end of the book was an image of the cat pretending to be a tiger in the grass. I remember trying to draw that image in first grade and being disappointed in my attempt, lol. I was my own worst critic even then. Anyway, I think I liked that image because it was cute, and because I liked the idea of an imaginative cat.

    The other image I remember was from a book called Frisker, which was about a puppy. In one scene Frisker is in the shelter, and you can see down the aisle of cages and see all the dogs. I loved looking at all the dogs in that spread. Later in life I got the same enjoyment by looking at Jim Borgman's illustrations for the comic Zits, where there were crowded school hallways with all sorts of students. I don't know why, but I'm a sucker for images where there are lots of different characters all together.

    Here's the cover of Frisker. I can't find the inside spread online.

    And here's on of the Zits comics I'm thinking of:

  • Moderator

    The first book that came to mind was Anatole in Italy. Anatole the mouse anonymously grades the cheeses in a chess factory. The book is mostly monochromatic with black and blue and then a touch of red on Anatoles kerchief. It was so different than the other full color books I was used to. Of course, I didn’t know why I liked it so much but in hindsight I believe this was why.

  • SVS OG

    I immediately thought of the picture books they read on "Captain Kangaroo" where I first saw the great illustrations of Virginia Burton ("Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel") and Robert McCloskey ("Make Way for Ducklings.") As a child, I wasn't really thinking about the art but I'm sure that it was a large part of why I loved the stories because both of those illustrators had a way of capturing emotion in their line work that made the characters alive and memorable.

  • When I was 8 or 9 I read the book, "Esperanza Rising" and stared at the cover for what was probably (cumulatively) hours. There was something about the emotion that the art conveyed, and the drama and grace of her pose, that drew my attention. Now that I think about it, I look at my own work today and see myself pursuing a similar style.


  • I had three old volumes of the Brothers Grimm Fairytales illustrated by Rie Cramer and the beauty of them stuck with me till today. Also Ivan Bilibin's illustrated russian fairytales and a few Carl Larsson images.

    My mom bought us many picturebooks as kids and i remember a lot of images. Like Leo Leoni' s mouse or a story about a glove in the woods where animals in the forest make a house into during the winter and so on

  • The Rie Cramer Grimms Fairytales illustrations (i had a slightly different edition, in German with different covers )

    The Ivan Bilibin's illustrations

    and the Evgheni Rachev book with the mitten. I don't think the cover was like that though but i don't remember


  • Thank you for sharing, everyone! I find it amazing what an impression one image can leave with us.
    @burvantill Anatole is cute! It looks like the sort of book I would've loved as a kid.

    @demotlj I've never heard of Virginia Burton until you mentioned her. Wow, her landscapes are amazing. They're simple and complex at the same time, if that makes sense. The stylization is incredible.
    I'd forgotten about Make Way for Ducklings, but now that I see it, I remember this:

    @KathrynAdebayo That cover is gorgeous! I stared at it for several minutes, and I'm 37, lol. I love her gold dress, with the touches of blue echoing the sky. It's so flowing and beautiful. Thank you for sharing!

    @irina I've never heard of Rie Cramer or Evgheni Rachev before, but their works are beautiful. Ivan Billiban's work never ceases to amaze me. I'm in a group on Facebook called "The Golden Age of Illustration," and Billiban seems to appear every other week or so. They could post the same image and I'd still look at it for quite a while each time.

  • I love that image hehe. I used to have geese and ducks and they are amazing and it so captures their way 😃

    Rie Cramer is also from the Golden Age, actually in the https://pierangelo-boog.blogspot.com/ website he has a huge long list of illustrators and images that you can browse through from many periods

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