Monday, March 8, 2010

Drawn to Read: Anita Jeram's Labor of Love

Do cover illustrations call to you, "Pick me up. Read me. Don't I look awsome?!?" Of course they do. You are drawn to read. Illustrations help tell the story and express thoughts that words may not acurately say. Illustrations help us see things from a differnt angle or in a differnt light. Sometimes in ways we never would have expected. It's always good to stretch our imaginations and feed it new material to consider. That is why I like to focus some attention on illustrators occassionaly. This edition of "Drawn to Read," features:

Anita Jeram.

Although Anita Jeram has illustrated more than 20 books since 1991, and countless greeting cards, she is probably best know for her work with two authors: Sam McBratney and Amy Hest.

(Sam McBratney books)
"Guess How Much I Love You" and it's many spin-off books -- "When I am Big," "Let's Play in the Snow," "A Surprise for the Nutbrown Hares," etc. -- feature the a family of hares. Jeram said illustrating "Guess How Much I Love You," was a lobor of love for she wanted to cry everytime she read it. For those of you who have not read it, the story follows Big and Little Nutbrwon hare during their bedtime ritual. Little Nutbrown Hare tells his father how much he loves him and Big Nutbrown Hare's response shows that the love is returned in even greater amounts.

This is a case where the illustration and text work perfectly together. Jeram's watercolor illustrations capture a beautifully sleepy and sweet moment without going over the top. They are soft and inviting in fresh, yet muted colors of spring. The facial expressions around the eyes and mouths keep the emotions honest and the storytelling true. It is a wonderful collaboration, which was revisited in 2004 for "You Are All My Favorites," a story perfect for families with multiple children.

"You Are All My Favorites," follows Mama and Papa bear as they put their three cubs to sleep and reassure each of them how much they are loved... and that there is plenty of love to go around. One again, Jeram and McBratney are able to keep the message simple, fun, compelling, and full of love.
(Amy Hest books)
In 2001 Jeram teamed with Amy Hest for two books, "Kiss Goodnight," and "Don't You Feel Well, Sam?" These were followed in 2003 with "You Can Do It, Sam." This series follows a young bear cub, Sam, and his mama bear. Written with a very desriptive, lyrical poetry the stories express typical fears and worries faced by young children everyday. Whether Sam is worried about going to sleep or having to deliver goodies to their neighbors all by himself, the stories show children how they are capable of doing things for themselves. Best of all, they also reassure children that growing up doesn't mean parents stop loving you. These are great stories for preschool through kindergarten-aged readers.
Jeram shows her versatiltiy with the "Sam" books staying away from the fresh palette of her watercolors and instead using rich acrylics that translate well into fall and winter hues of burnished orange and crimson. Jeram focuses on size relationships, and soft lines as she explores glowing tones and subtle brush storkes to create a warm familiar atmoshphere. They are great books for nap or bedtime rituals.
I look forward to many new books illustrated by Anita Jeram. In the meantime I think I will take a look at a series she wrote and illustrated for preschoolers, "Contrary Mary."

1 comment:

  1. What a lovely roundup.
    Kiss Goodnight is one of our favourites - this was part of our bedtime routine for a VERY long time!