Top Ten Tuesday is a bookish meme hosted by The Broke and Bookish. This week’s theme is Top Ten Underrated Authors or Books in X Genre. The illustrators on my list are hardly underrated: many have won major prizes, including Caldecott Honors. But each illustrator has a particular book that I find deserving of the big prize itself. This list is very heavy on the 2013 titles because that was an incredible year for picture books.
Susan Roth’s exquisite torn-paper collages make Cindy Trumbore’s Parrots Over Puerto Rico one of the most beautiful books of 2013.
Yuyi Morales’s lively cartoon style brings the power of imagination to life in Nino Wrestles the World.
LeUyen Pham’s clever integration of numbers and math in her illustrations conveys Paul Erdos’s obsession with numbers in Deborah Heiligman’s The Boy Who Loved Math.
Kadir Nelson’s beautiful paintings evoke the particular time period of We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball.
Sophie Blackall found the perfect project for her quirky style in Matthew Olshan’s The Mighty Lalouche.
I know I write about Deborah Freedman’s Story of Fish & Snail all the time, but I think her art is brilliant. The image of Snail peering into the watery book that Fish has jumped into is one of my all-time favorite images in a picture book.
Bagram Ibatoulline also found the perfect project for his talents in Paul Fleischman’s The Matchbox Diary.
It’s a daunting task to try to illustrate Langston Hughes’s poem, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers,” but E.B. Lewis’s paintings manage to add meaning to Hughes’s already powerful lines. The water itself becomes an important character. Evocative, powerful, haunting.
Kelly Bingham’s Z Is For Moose is already pretty funny, and Paul Zelinsky’s illustrations add tremendous visual humor.
I love all of Melissa Sweet’s books, and she really outdoes herself in A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin. She is true to her own style as an artist even as she introduces us to Pippin’s style.