Friday, August 11, 2006

More Notes From the Conference

Another speaker at this year's conference who said some things that really resonated for me was Mo Willems, a picture book author and illustrator (Don't Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus, Hyperion Books).

He said that if readers notice the work, then the work is ruined. It should be invisible to the reading experience and nothing should get between the reader and the story. Books should leave open spaces for the reader to participate. In order for the characters to truly come alive, the creator must disappear.

I just love that and think it is so true.

Another thing that he does (and can I just say that I love him for this?) is that he always makes sure that his artwork in his books is simple enough that kids can draw the characters themselves.

I cannot even begin to say how impressed I am by this. Talk about subjugating one's ego for the work! But it's absolutely brilliant and SO giving of him, because of COURSE kids love to try drawing the characters they see in books. And how often is the lovely, breath-taking artwork far beyond the capabilities of their young fingers??

I can vividly remember sitting down with my own kids when they were (much!) younger and drawing with them. It took about 90 seconds before they looked at my drawing and started to get discouraged. Needless to say, I began drawing very messily--not hard since drawing is not my forte.

But here is Mo Willems making sure they have something in a professionally produced book that they are capable of emulating. He gives them hope that they have it within themselves to do what he does.

What a generous gift!