A Celebration of Beatrix Potter looks like a children’s picture book, but indeed, appearances can be deceiving. The Stewards of Fredrick Warne & Co. have collected more than 30 of today’s favorite children’s book illustrators’ personal celebrations of Beatrix Potter, both in words and drawings to help observe the 150th anniversary of Potter’s birth. Acknowledging that “…Beatrix Potter changed the world of children’s literature forever,” and “…has influenced generations of authors and illustrators, intertwining her legacy into their own,” the editors have completed an amazing compilation of full-page images.
Reminiscences of reading and “looking at” Potter’s tales as a child from such notable illustrators as Melissa Sweet, Peter H. Reynolds, Laura Vaccaro Seeger, Brian Pinkney, Brenden Wenzel, E. B. Lewis, Betsy Lewin, Chris Haughton, David Ezra Stein, John Agee, Kelly Murphey, and Esther Krosoczka, which deal with The Tale of Peter Rabbit (published in 1902) alone, persuade the reader to recognize that many of our illustrators’ first desires to “draw” were formed by perusing the tiny details of Potter’s woodland creatures. In this section, the masculine “take” on the evil farmer, Mr. Mc Gregor was enough to crack a chuckle from even the most serious-about-illustrations-and-art readers.
Since I have never formally taught below sixth grade, many of the names above were not as familiar to me as they are to those of you who follow and enjoy children’s books in a professional capacity; however, even I recognized the kinds of drawings and names like Tomie Paola and others, whose picture books appeal to children and grownups alike.
This is a fabulous read for one who likes “interesting details” about interesting artists and how they got their start, specifically the influence Beatrix Potter had on their art.