The Kate Greenaway Medal is one of the most prestigious awards given in the UK. It is awarded annually for distinguished illustration in children’s books. Awarded along with the Carnegie Award (given for distinguished writing in children’s books), the Greenaway Medal is given by the Chartered Institute of Librarians and Information Professionals (CILIP). For more than half a century now, the Greenaway Medal has been regarded as one of the most aspired recognitions by illustrators.
Since it was first awarded in the year 1956, hundreds of prominent British book artists like Lauren Child, Anthony Browne, Shirley Hughes, and John Burningham have already received the award. The criteria Books which are nominated for CILIP’s Kate Greenaway medal must be of exceptional artistic quality. Focusing on the visual experience, the illustrated book must be stimulating and engaging. Although the graphic elements are prioritized, the texts must be properly coordinated with the images.
Among the most important factors which must be assessed are the creative style, format, harmonization between illustration and text, and the visual experience. “The Baby Who Wouldn’t Go to Bed” by Helen Cooper The book tackles the story of a boy who simply refuses to go to sleep. When his mother calls for Bedtime, the boy drives away in his car and travel on to the night in search for a companion for his night quest. However, he constantly fails at his attempts to find the perfect comrade in the magical world full of characters from his toys.
In the end, he realizes that nighttime is truly bedtime. He is then reunited with his mother, who like also cannot sleep as she was in search for him. To start with, the medium used for the book “The baby who wouldn’t go to bed” is quite suitable for its purpose. The visual images were not just appropriate – but rather very crucial to promote a general idea of the story. Although the concept presented in the book can also be delivered successfully through audio-visual mediums, the printed one is also equally fitting.
Readers cannot help but notice that the visual images presented in the book follows the central theme that the story diverges on – a dreamy night. The images on the book well deliver the story from the sun setting to an overwhelming darkness all on its own as the readers go over the story page by page. As the story progresses, the shades and colors go darker and more looming with every page. Basically, the style of presentation of the texts and images vary. Some texts are matched with images much like groups of idea clumped together to present a segment of the story.
In this style, the texts and images complement each other much like a painting with a written description. In other pages, the texts are separated from the visual images, thereby promoting the idea that the images only serve as a supplementary backdrop of the story. In some cases, the texts act as mere subtitles or captions for the graphics. Consistent throughout the whole book however is the dreamy style of illustration that is distinctively unique. Focusing on the typography, readers will find the book a pleasant read as its texts come in bold roman prints offered in the right sizes fit for kid’s reading.
To a certain extent, the texts which are sparingly arranged in no more than five lines a paragraph heightens the reading appeal of the book. The spacing of the fonts and lines also makes each page pleasing to the eye. The lay-out of the book varies from page to page and that lack of a uniform presentation style adds up to the surprise element of the story. The texts do not appear intrusive. However, there are some pages where the texts are not placed in successive orders. This lack of order prompts a reader to ignore some texts so as to focus more on the highly important texts.
A particular example is on page eight, where texts “The little car went slower… and slower… and slower” will probably be ignored as the more integral content (“The musicians played such a sweet tune…”) attracts the reader’s whole attention. (Cooper) Among the most notable characteristics of the book was the fact that the images and the texts were complementing with each other. Both were much needed for the presentation of the story and both of which enhanced the effect of one towards the full comprehension of the story.
Another positive aspect of the book is the fact that the illustration were all very clear as to what message that they wanted to deliver – it even seems that the pictures/ graphics alone can tell the story without the texts. In general, this book gives young ones (twelve months to six years) a good reading experience as it combines reality with imagination by merging a typical night time scenario with a magical and dreamy presentation. It plays out a pre-existing experience into a dreamy adventure that is packed with much imagination left to be unveiled by the reader.
It serves well as a nighttime book that’s meant to be read just before naptime – and its whole significantly proves that it is in line with that theme. “Jethro Byrd Fairy Child” by Bob Graham The book “Jethro Byrd fairy Child” explores an age-old theme – the need to enjoy the small wonders of life and keep oneself imaginative despite an adult’s tendency to formulate a very preoccupied life as he welcomes maturity. In the book, Annabelle spends most of her time trying to find fairies. Fortunately, she discovers that they are really true as she meets the fairy child by the name of Jethro Byrd in her own backyard.
She also meets the rest of the Byrd family and invites them for tea. Unfortunately, her parents cannot see the fairies and Annabelle wonders what would happen if she would just go with the fairies and leave her family behind. Just like any good fairytale book that is jam-packed with lots of creative juices, this book is an appropriate medium for the story. A book that’s full of illustrations is probably the best way of delivering a story with a fairy plot like this. However, although the theme and the plot of the story are both cliches, the illustrations are not.
The graphics and the artist’s style are very distinguishing as it almost focuses only on a single setting – a backyard in a suburban area. Although the whole story seems is full of magical elements, what’s good about the illustrations is that they tone down the imaginations. The graphic images do not offer the same magical bluff that most fairy stories deliver. Instead, they create a more casual and simple theme that allows the readers to dwell on a balanced storytelling style – one wherein both the texts and the images are telling the story.
In addition to that, the quality of the washed-out illustrations was consistently appealing all throughout the book. The simple style works well with the theme which is also straightforward and easy to follow. As for the typography, the book also rated well. The typeface and size were fit for the reading requirements of young ones four to seven years old. Another good thing about the book is that there was no uniform style of placing the texts. The texts were placed on the top, bottom, left, or right side of the page, depending on the demands of the graphical elements for every page.
Such made the layout more appealing. Moreover, since the texts were properly placed, they did not appear intrusive in each page despite the fact that they were a bit too many lines for every page. Instead, the texts took on a very integral role to fully comprehend the flow of the story. Unlike other books with illustrations however, this one would probably fail to tell the story based on the graphical elements alone. Fortunately, the need for texts was met fully in a creatively appealing manner. The illustrations and the texts were also very much in synch.
The artist made use of recurring visual images – the fence and the backyard setting – to normalize the magical theme and keep the readers abreast with the values and the theme that the story wanted to portray and develop. To set the normal setting of the story, the illustrations on the covers and title page of the book were used as an introductory element showing a casual metropolitan/suburban scenario. Unlike other graphical books which appear as picture mosaics, this one is more organized and fit for a child. The book’s use of images is not merely for decorative purposes.
Rather, the images harmonize one’s imagination and reality. It merges the idea of fairy existence to normal day-to-day experiences, therefore engaging more young readers. With these illustrations, young readers cannot help but think of their own backyard and their own probable adventures with the fairies that they might find. Overall, the visual experience that this book offers is simple but overwhelmingly clear and engaging. The story which revolved around a simple plot with a spice of magical elements requires just these plain illustrative elements.
As the illustrations normalize Annabelle’s adventure, the book becomes more engaging and pleasing to read. The colors used and the water-color style of the graphics also gave the book a very heartwarming appeal. Conclusions The two books fit the criteria of the Kate Greenaway Medal on the following grounds: the artistic style portrayed in the books were unique and distinctive; the illustrations were in sync with texts; the illustrations were clear; the illustrations did not appear like picture upholsteries, rather, they increased one’s understanding of the story.
In general, the visual experiences offered by the books were engaging, enhancing the book’s ability to attract and retain the young reader’s interest in literary works. WORKS CITED: Helen Cooper. “The Baby who wouldn’t Go to Bed. ” Toronto, ON: Doubleday Canada, 1996. Bob Graham. “Jethro Byrd Fairy Child. ” Cambridge, Mass. : Candlewick Press, 2005, c2002
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