Judging A Book by Its Cover?

Artists and illustrators hold a special  place in my heart.  If envy weren’t a sin, I’d probably be envious of their talent.  Instead, I’ll choose to admire it with great awe and soak up all of the beauty I can that they share with the world.

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Mary Byrne Kline with new friends, author & illustrators, Gloria and Jerry Pinkney.

Along with several family members who have been gifted with artistic ability, I also have been privileged to meet the illustrator whose talented works we are featuring this month.   As you can tell by the picture, it was quite a few years ago that I met Jerry Pinkney and his lovely wife, Gloria.  Several teacher friends and I made a trip to Bath, Maine, for a conference featuring authors and illustrators.  To say it changed our lives would be an understatement.  We were transformed!  For a week we relished the sessions in which we listened to  four well-known children’s authors and several outstanding  illustrators.  There couldn’t have been more than 100 attendees,  allowing us personal insight and time with each exceptional presenter.   I remember Mr. Pinkney (we called him Jerry at the conference!) telling us that he often used family members and friend’s faces for his character illustrations.   He showed us a book,  Mirandy and Brother Wind,  in which he had painted  his wife, Gloria.  That book was written by Patricia McKissack, another wonderful  author we  met at the conference.

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Gloria Pinkney’s image in “Mirandy and Brother Wind”.

Visiting with the Pinkneys gave me an entirely new perspective on books.  I began to peruse children’s literature with a renewed fascination for the illustrations,  a passion which remains today.  Of course, I delight in high-quality literature and remain adamant that children be exposed to excellent books and stories.  In like manner, I would love to see children captivated by books so beautifully illustrated that they are drawn back to them to just visually “fall into their pages.”   When young readers feel an emotional attachment to stories that are read to them and that they are able to read for themselves,  it is often due to their appreciation and fondness for the illustrations.   This helps to encourage the desire for reading, as well as stimulate a child’s imagination as they begin reading chapter books with fewer illustrations.

So – enjoy Jerry Pinkney with us in May!  What an incredibly gifted illustrator.  And I can tell you from first-hand experience, also a kind and thoughtful man.  When it comes to “judging a book by its cover”, you will never go wrong with a book by Jerry or Gloria Pinkney.

Mary Byrne Kline

CLICK HERE for a listing of Jerry Pinkney books.

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