Thursday, July 17, 2014

Inspiration by Brooke Boynton Hughes

I love the title of Linda's post, "Imagination is just memory in disguise".  So, I thought I'd follow Linda's lead and talk about the books that I loved as a kid and that continue to inspire my work as an adult.  I mentioned these books a couple weeks ago in this blog post, but I thought I'd go into a little more explantion here.

1.  Come Follow Me, by Gyo Fujikawa.

A lot of my favorite childhood book memories involve reading with my mom or grandma, but this book is one that I loved to look at when I was alone in my room.  I have a really clear memory of how magical Gyo Fujikawa's illustrations felt to me.  The world created in Come Follow Me is one that I longed to inhabit.  The fairies and gnomes and trolls seemed so real and familiar.  The magic that this book contained for me is something that I hope to recreate, even just a little bit, in my own work. 

2.  The Clown of God, by Tomie DePaola

This is a book that my grandma and I read together over and over again.  The story is lovely and touching and the illustrations are beautifully designed.  This book taught me about composition, page design, and pacing.  The ending of this book always makes me cry.  In a good way. 

3. The Maggie B. and The Little Moon Theater, by Irene Haas

I really love the work of Irene Haas.  There's something about anthropomorphic animals living side by side with humans that I find wildly appealing.  Just like Come Follow Me, the worlds of both The Maggie B. and The Little Moon Theater, felt so alive to me!  JoJo, Jip, and Nicolette were my friends and I longed to join their traveling troupe.  Maggie's boat was cozy and comfortable and was a place that I loved to visit.  And my mom always did the voices and sang the songs in The Little Moon Theater, which was so great!  I'm certain that The Little Moon Theater has everything to do with why I love drawing animals wearing hats and sweaters. 

4. Where's Wallace, by Hilary Knight

Hilary Knight's characters are lively and expressive and full of movement.  The relationship between Wallace and Mr. Frumbee is one of fondness and comfort and also a bit of mischief and deception, which was such a great combination as a kid.  I love searching for Wallace in the detailed, double page spreads, while the black and white pages provide a visual break and help build anticipation.

5.  The Grey Lady and the Strawberry Snatcher, by Molly Bang

This is such a strange and wonderful wordless story.  Color is used in an unusual and interesting way and the ending is so very satisfying.  The characters are endearing, even the naughty Strawberry Snatcher.  The Grey Lady and the Strawberry Snatcher played a huge part in establishing my love of wordless picture books.  I've been working on a dummy for my own wordless story called Brave Molly, which is named after Molly Bang. 

There were so many books that I loved as a kid (Where the Wild Things Are, The Patchwork Cat, Rain Makes Applesauce...) but these six were my very favorites.  There were movies and t.v. shows, too, (The Goonies, Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal, The Muppet Show, Fraggle Rock) that I watched over and over and that inspire my work as an illustrator. 

When I'm feeling creatively stuck, revisiting these books and movies helps get me unstuck.  There is much inspiration to be found in the pages of childhood favorites.  What were your favorites?  Which childhood books continue to inspire you? 


  1. I am intrigued by your comment on the Knight book, about the black and white illos helping to pace the story. Will definitely be looking for this book in particular and I appreciate being motivated to look at Haas' books again - thanks!

  2. Thanks, Brooke! Beautiful books. The cover of Maggie B. is especially gorgeous.