Which comes first, the pictures or the words?

I've done it! I've just pushed the "approve proof" button on Amazon and released the latest book from the Writers' Mill, a local writers group that I belong to. It's a children's book, with stories about a small boy called Carl and his rather superior older sister June. We wanted pictures for the book, so I and several other members of the group tried to come up with some. Of course, words are our creative medium of choice, but, though I say it myself, the result looks pretty good. You can find it at https://www.createspace.com/7691295, and maybe soon on Amazon!

All of which got me wondering about authors and illustrators of children's picture books. Of course, Carl and June is not a picture book. But looking at our various illustrating styles, and the various styles of books I was reading recently, I pondered which comes first - the words or the pictures; and who comes first - the author or the illustrator.

For example, Harry The Happy Mouse by n.g.k. illustrated by Janelle Dimmett seems to have an invisible (or scarcely named) author and a very visible (named) illustrator. It's the first in a very cool series of animal stories for children, with smooth rhymes, whimsical text, and illustrations filled with detail and delightful color - almost old-fashioned, but brightly new, if that makes sense. A nicely whimsical font adds to the fun - not so easy to teach reading from, but seriously good for enjoying it. I've really enjoyed the three books I've read so far (Harry the Christmas Mouse and Harry's Spooky Surprise are books two and three). I suppose I should recommend some coffee to go with the read, so I'll suggest a lively easy-drinking two-star brew.

Theodore Down Under by Ashlee and Trent Harding sends a happy teddy bear (Theodore) on a trip to Australia. It's a flying tour, hitting all the highlights with bright simple illustrations and easy text, plus just enough facts to keep an older child interested. The facts probably came before the images but the storyline - I'm guessing author and illustrator worked together to create this one. Maybe they even enjoyed some light crisp one-star coffee.

Moshe Comes to Visit by Tehila Sade Moyal introduces readers to a small human narrator who finds an even tinier friend and learns to overcome fear. It's a very sweet story, nicely entertaining, with a wise lesson. Rhythm and Rhyme are a little awkward at the start but soon feel natural and the pages fly. So which came first? I'm guessing the rhyme. Enjoy with some bright lively two-star coffee.

Muffy & Valor by Karl Beckstrand illustrated by Brandon Rodriguez allows humans and dogs to share the stage in a story about a pet that doesn't get on well with other dogs. But dogs can empathize and dogs can learn. The result is a sweet true story, with pleasingly realistic illustrations, inviting readers to see how they too can learn. I'm pretty sure the story came first with this one, but I love the well-painted feel of the illustrations. Enjoy with some well-balanced, smooth three-star coffee.

The animals in Dinosaur and Monster and the Magic Carpet by Suzanne Pollen are a small child's toys, and it's easy to imagine a child listening to the story and trying to act it out. I'm guessing the images/characters of the protagonists came first, and maybe a real child even played the story before it was written. But of course I'll never know. I do wish it was a little longer though - just as I often wished the stories my children played had endings as well as middles. Enjoy with some light crisp one-star coffee.

And there are stars. Someone must at least have imagined the pictures before writing this one. Brightley and Glow by Sophie Carmen. The blue and yellow stars on the cover are certainly enticing, and the idea of sibling stars is fun. The storyline revolves around the granting of impossible wishes - an interesting fairytale thought for a modern fairytale story perhaps. Enjoy with some more light crisp one-star coffee.


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