Popular Picturebooks That Signify Traditional Art Magnitude in Reading

AI is cool but nothing beats hand made art! Here are some great traditional art-based recommendations that will change up your picturebook collection.

Art and Music Lifestyle Recommendations Young Readers
showing a person flipping through a colorful picturebook.

We are slowly approaching the end of 2023, a year of discoveries, trends, and Barbenheimer. Something I find interesting is how advanced our human creativity has become. Sixteen years ago, the first brick-looking iPhone came out in stores, blowing the population’s minds with its accessibility and touch screen. Nowadays, anybody can do anything with current technology. Humans work from home on iPads and touchscreen computers, making technology a surrounding element in their everyday lives, including artists.

Personal Journey and Experience

Witnessing Traditional Art Decrease

I am a Bachelor of Arts graduate, and many of my college pals have moved onwards to adult life. Before we graduated, I imagined the majority of my artist friends to continue as traditional artists. However, it has been a year since we left UFG (University of Galway), and I am shocked to say almost all of my friends create their art solely with technology. Using Adobe, Krita, Photoshop, and the thousands of other apps available this year, artists nowadays focus on the technological aspect of creating artwork. Not that there is anything wrong with technological art; I find any work of art fascinating. However, I tend to miss the popularity of traditional artwork.

Why is Traditional Art Finer?

As much as I love the availability of technological art, I love the idea of using your own hands to create art. It is impressive, and I believe it has more credibility towards creativity because of the blank page spooks. In other words, you can use online elements to help start the creative process of technological art, whether you’re googling inspirational pictures or Adobe giving examples from other artists’ work.

There is nothing wrong with some inspiration because we all need it! But while creating a traditional work of art, you always start with a blank page/canvas/block of clay, etc. You urge your own imagination to grind its gears to create a physical work of art. I love this feeling while making an illustration. I absolutely love this aspect while appreciating another being’s traditional work of art.

Encouraging Hand-Made Art over AI Art in Literature!

This article will discuss some traditional artist books that are non-technological and solely focused on handmade. I hope to encourage more traditional art and artists to dig into their physical, creative elements. Though we should be thankful for the technological features we have today, I believe that exposure to online is starting to take away human creativity and make it too technological to call it human-made. I hope to help bring back that creative spark with some powerful traditional-art recommendations.

Recommendations for Tradition Illustrations

The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka, Illustrated by Lane Smith

The classic fairytale…but with a twist! Follow the detailed story of the three little pigs and the big bad wolf. But this time, let us hear it from the Big Bad Wolf’s perspective. The Big Bad Wolf, or Alexander T, explains his backstory about making a cake for his grannie. When he discovers he has no sugar, he asks his three neighbors: the pigs. However, it might not be best to leave his home when he has an awful sneeze…or else he might blow a house down!

Front Cover of The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs by Jon Scieska, image showing a wolf sneezing with pig legs sitcking out, all on the front page of a newspaper called 'Daily Wolf'

The True Story of the Three Little Pigs is a hilarious picture book you will not want to miss. The illustrations are unlike any other picture book I have imagined. Lane Smith has a somewhat dark interpretation of the illustrations. I find they match the story’s mood perfectly. The pictures are in detail, and quite formidable for a children’s book, but in a good way.

Tuesday by David Wiesner

On Tuesday, at 8 pm, weird things begin to happen. Near a local town lives a village of frogs, and suddenly, the frogs float away on lilypads towards town. The frogs cause chaos around town, leaving no reason for their mysterious appearance and floating abilities. Once the morning cracks dawn, the frogs float back to their pond like nothing ever happened…what will next Tuesday bring?

Front Cover of David Wisner's Tuesday, showing a clock about to strike 9, with floating lilypads surrounding the clock.

Tuesday from David Wiesner is an almost wordless story with endless illustrations that will leave you wanting more. The pictures are so ahead of their time. It reminds me of the series ISpy, where you will almost always spot a new detail in every illustration. This book needs no words because the pictures do all the work for you. If I could recommend one book to appreciate traditional art, I recommend picking up a copy of Tuesday. It will inspire any reader, no matter the age. To be straightforward, this book is silly, and sometimes silly books can make the most impact. The plot is witty, yet David puts everything he can into his illustrations, making it more than a story but inspirational.

Giants Island by Jane Yolen, Illustrated by Doug Keith

Nobody knows much about the mysterious floating land called Giants Island…yet. Two kids decide they want to explore the fascinating island and discover its secrets, if any. While exploring its puzzling caves, the two uncover one of the biggest mysteries: the island is no like no other but a giant! Follow the children and the giant’s friendship and their magical adventure together.

Front Cover of Jane Yolens Giant Island, showing an island with trees growing on top, and a shape formed at the bottom.

I have no clue how Doug Keith created these book illustrations by hand. I consider myself an amateur artist, and Doug Keith’s artwork is everything to me. His painting is so insanely detailed, yet looks so simple. It shocks me every time I see his artwork. Though I absolutely love Jane Yolen’s writing, Doug Keith’s fabulous watercolor illustrations truly capture the story’s essence.

Noticing by Kobi Yamada, Illustrated by Elise Hurst

Front cover of Kobi Yamada's Noticing, showing a person sitting on the end of a twisted tree, with a small fox watching from the corner.

While feeling lost in her own identity, a young girl befriends a local painter. Together, they embark on a journey of appreciation, and the friendly painter helps the girl understand how her existence matters. I love this picture book with all my heart. Elise Hurst perfectly captures Kobi Yamada’s heartwarming story. Their blend is impressively well done, and Ms. Hurst’s outstanding watercolor illustrations will leave you in awe for days.

Jeremy Draws a Monster by Peter McCarty

Jeremy feels bored alone in his room, so why not make a friend? Jermey decides to draw a monster on the wall. It sounds like the best idea…until he comes to life. Even worse, he will not stop bothering Jermey! The monster forces Jermey to wait on him hand and foot, which soon becomes too irritating for Jermey to deal with. There must be a way to send off his rude guest, but how will he do it?

Front Cover of Peter McCarty's Jermey Draws a Monster, showing a young boy and a monster surrounded by twisty marks.

The perfect read for a younger audience, Jeremy Draws a Monster is a witty picturebook with extremely detailed illustrations. Peter McCarty does a fabulous job at the artwork. I find the monster’s design to be quite impressive. Jeremy Draws a Monster is a perfect example of how breathtaking traditional art can be, and I recommend this to all lovers of traditional art.

I encourage you to try any of these picture books for a change. Though traditional art still has participants, technological art is quickly overtaking. As much as we love AI and all its glory, we cannot lose our creative connection. Most importantly, I hope traditional art-based picture books will continue impacting younger audiences and artists who obsess over children’s books as much as me. Personally, I turn to children’s books for many reasons. When I feel blue or need some inspiration, I pop open a children’s book from my collection and let it do its magic. I hope that picturebook writers will continue to use traditional art in the future and that books like these will be continuously made as I continue to grow in the industry.

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