Among the Illustrators: Princeton Children's Book Festival

Another big crowd at the 2016 festival.  Here the stars are gathered, away from their drafting tables, the talented few who have achieved what many only dream of, a career in illustration and success in the publishing of picture books.  

Many say to me, each year, "I can't believe I am doing this--it is a childhood dream come true."  What they have accomplished on paper and canvas, against all odds in a world where print is dying and media is synonymous with "screen," is extraordinary.

The very talented Lauren Castillo of Los Angeles, left below, won a 2015 Caldecott Honor for Nana in the City.  She studied illustration at the Maryland Institute College of Art and received her MFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York City.  She has written and illustrated more than 14 books for children. 

The author of the famous “Skippyjon Jones” draws a crowd, below.  Judy Schachner of Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, is the #1 New York Times Best Selling Author/Illustrator of more than 23 books for children.  Growing up in New England, she remembers doodling on everything, including her father’s bald head.

Prolific Philadelphia illustrator Brian Biggs, below, attended Parsons School of Design in New York starting a year after I took courses there.  Brian has written and drawn everything you can think of:  comics and graphic novels, children's books, magazines, animation, advertising, posters, toys, and puzzles. 

Julia Denos of Quincy, Massachusetts, says watercolor is her favorite medium "because it's the wildest."  I admire the freedom and boldness of her work, so akin to 20th century modernism in attention to the full potential of the medium--she can make it do everything it is capable of.  I told her that I think she has come into her own with her newest books like "Swatch," which seem to capture something of her own personality and worldview.  She agreed.