Alas! I don’t have the treasury of delightful picture books remembered from my childhood. No one took me to the library as a preschooler, or gifted me with any. I remember sneaking up to my brothers’ room in the attic (6 of us in my grandmother’s 2-bedroom house) and pulling out their children’s encyclopedia to look at the pictures. How I longed to be able to know what those black marks said on the white paper to explain the pictures! I must have bugged my mother about it because when I was 4-5 she explained about phonics and I taught myself to read. No books yet until I went to school, then, bingo! I was hooked for life. I devoured every book in the schoolroom, which in those days, wasn’t much. When finally allowed to walk by myself to the county library, I sat for hours at the itty bitty table on the itty bitty chair just right for me, until it was getting late, then checked out as many books as they allowed me to take home. I must confess, with apologies to illustrators, that once I could read, the pictures held little interest for me. I preferred making the pictures in my head of what I read. The story—that was the thing.
Now I appreciate the work and the importance of the illustrations for picture books. I know more than one non-writer adult who makes a collection of favorite picture books because of the beauty or charm or hilarity of the illustrations.
I may never make a sale of a picture book, but I’m so glad so many of you do, of great stories and pictures.
-Contributed by Shirley