Words on the page give the reader a map. Pictures leave an impression- and artist’s impression- that become part of the book experience. Fabulous artwork can bring great things to a story. Art can have a life of its own in a book. Those two things can sometimes have very different effects on the reader.
Mary Grace Corpus and Jason Wiliford were the artists who did the illustrations in The Young Inventors Guild books. (Jason Wiliford did the chapter head sketches for The Atomic Weight of Secrets… and Mary Grace did the chapter head illustrations, as well as the blueprints for the inventions, in The Ravens of Solemano...) Each sketch has so much power, hinting at what will come in the pages ahead. The blueprints are crafted beautifully and offer a living schematic, something that only adds to whatever images are already dancing in the heads of readers.
Sometimes, though, the art breaks the spell and interferes. Sometimes, the artwork and the story are out of sync. We’ve all read books that are vastly different from whatever the illustrator (who clearly did not read the book manuscript) provided.
In Egypt, the artwork for locally produced kids’ books is due for an overhaul. Retro is one thing. Out-of-date design is another. Some of the art used in children’s books hasn’t changed for decades and was never attended to seriously. It feels like there may be only one or two working illustrators in the country and they learned their craft in the 50s. Many modern booksellers are in pursuit of some fresh and fabulous local art- of which there is plenty!