Monday, December 20, 2010

Aileen Leijten's Picture Book List

Aileen Leijten was born and raised in Belgium.  After graduating from college, she moved to the U.S. to continue her studies in Animation Film. She graduated with an MFA in 1994. Her films were nominated nationally and internationally, and Sugar & Plastic won an award at the Sinking Creek Festival in Nashville. After that, Aileen worked for companies such as Steven Spielberg’s non-profit, Starbright, Hanna-Barbera, Sony Studios, Mattel Media, and Walt Disney Imagineering (theme park design). In 2003 she illustrated City Hall, her first children's book. Together with her husband, author/illustartor John Rocco, she decided to move to New York to focus on children's books. She illustrated: Bella & Bean, written by Rebecca Kai Dotlich, and she wrote and illustrated Hugging Hour, Penguin/Philomel 2009. You can learn more on her personal blog.

This is a list of ten of her favorite picture books:

1. The Doubtful Guest - Edward Gorey
    This is my favorite Edward Gorey book, it encompasses everything I love in a picture book. The text is brilliant in itself, but Gorey adds so much extra with his quirky, wonderful and very funny illustrations. A truly inspirational masterpiece.


2. The Rabbits - John Marsden & Shaun Tan
    I was so happy when I discovered this book at the bookstore. I couldn't get enough of it and I bought many more of Tan's books because of it. The illustrations are gorgeously sad and the text poetic and so moving. This devastating tale about colonization says everything that needs to be said, and the illustration capture the essence of what the colonized and their land are enduring.
3. In the Night Kitchen - Maurice Sendak
    Sendak approached this book in a very graphic novel-like way, and the result is stunning. The thick, black, pen and ink line is beautiful and the colors make this dreamlike environment come to live. It's hard to believe that this book has been ranked 25th place on the "100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-2000" list compiled by the American Library Association.

4. The Tomten - Astrid Lindgren & Harald Wiberg
    I never get tired of reading this book to my daughter. It's so calming, soothing and beautifully illustrated. No other book captures the long cold winter feeling, snowy silence. People and animals huddle together and this magical creature the Tomten watches over everything. So sweet.

5. Anatole - Eve Titus & Paul Galdone
    Anatole is a smart, sweet, compassionate and generous mouse. From the first page, one immediately cares about his little French hero. The illustrations are basically black and white with a some blue and red added here and there, they capture all the necessary actions and emotions and are perfect for this book.The story is smart, sweet and fun. Another book i will never get tired of.

6. Santa Calls - William Joyce
    The story is charming, but the illustrations are beyond beautiful. This was the first picture book I ever bought for myself. Joyce's style has this old art deco feeling and he fills the pages with incredibly intricate details, reminiscent of Little Nemo in Slumberland (btw, does that count a s a picture book, because I'll have to add it to the top of my list!)

7. Doctor De Soto - William Steig
    I had to pick one of Steig's books, they are all so good and so funny. Doctor De Soto is great, meaningful, suspenseful, and funny. It won the Newberry Award, that says it all.

8. The Swineherd - Lisbeth Zwerger   
    Lisbeth Zwerger is one of, if not my favorite illustrator ever. I love her delicate lines, subtle watercolors and swirly pen and ink work. I grew up with the Anderson fairy tale, and have always loved it, but Zwergers fluid illustrations make this book stand out, even from her other picture books.

9. The Lion and the Mouse - Jerry Pinkney
    I like wordless books, this one in particular. The drawings are so detailed and realistic yet very personal and humorous. Again, those swirly lines and the incredible masterful use of watercolor, makes me swoon. A stunning book.
10. The Story Blanket - Ferida Wolff /Harriet May Savitz - Elena Odriozola
The story is sweet and warm and good. The illustrations are great original, new and refreshing.Every single page is beautiful. The layouts and use of white space is perfect, the bright colors complement each other well and the character design is fresh.

1 comment:

  1. There are so many duplicates in my list (my ever-changing, growing, crossed-out list) that I could just copy yours, Aileen. Little Nemo is right there at the top.