Art + Design, Kids + Teens

From the Design Desk: Children’s Books Designers Love II


When I first wrote about children’s books that designers love, I mentioned the books by the ’60s designer Paul Rand and the Italian designer Bruno Munari, among a few others. A year later, Paul Rand’s I Know a Lot of Things was re-released and I took the opportunity to write about other gems in children’s book design. Turns out that if you’re a visual person or into graphic design, you really don’t need to have or be a kid to like books created for them.

For example, A Long Piece of String, a practically wordless, two-color children’s book by William Wondriska, originally published in 1961, verges on being a work of art.

This charming book simply follows the trail of one string, starting at the end sheets then through and around many situations with varying levels of scale and intricacy, such as a castle or a fluffy dog. It’s only at the end that I realized they were alphabetically arranged encounters.

Shadow, Suzy Lee’s follow-up to Wave, is another beautiful and practically wordless book.

Also two-color and in a vertical format, Shadow’s spine is at the top of the book, so that the shadows always appear in the bottom pages. It thoughtfully illustrates the imagination of one little girl discovering the potential of shadow play in her garage.

Featuring a completely different style, far brighter and zanier, is Other Goose by J.otto Seibold, the artist and author of the Mr. Lunch series, Olive, the Other Reindeer, and Penguin Dreams, among other great collectable books.

My favorite thing about Other Goose is the type-driven story openers. Seibold uses a mix of spray paint, massive hand lettering, and a wide range of scale for his cast of unusual characters.

I’ve heard it said that there are children’s books you buy to collect and cherish, and others you get simply to entertain young minds. These books can definitely serve both purposes. They’re imaginative and captivating while still being beautiful objects. They’re also great design specimens for the graphic eye.

Suzanne LaGasa

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