The Size and Shape of Things

Histoire de Babar, le Petit Elephant by Jean de Brunhoff interior page, a a double page spread of elephants gathered around a watering hole The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle interior page, a large collage butterfly is spread across two pages

The picture book is one of the graphic arts' most dynamic creative laboratories. Faced with the extreme challenge of communicating with a preliterate—and at times even preverbal—audience, practitioners of this deceptively simple art form have continually reassessed every element of the book's physical makeup and design for its expressive and playful potential.

Be it a book as elephantine as an elephant (The Story of Babar), or as wee and soft to the touch as its elfin protagonists (Little Fur Family), or even one punched through with a hole, tracking its hero's journey (The Very Hungry Caterpillar), concrete experiments like these are a perfect match for early childhood's primary focus on sensory-based learning.

At the dawn of the digital age, they also spotlight one of the picture book's traditional strengths: its capacity not only to convey but also to embody a narrative in a palpably satisfying, perhaps even primal way.


Click on a name for more information about the artist

Wanda Gág with a cat

Kerlan Features

Wanda Gág

1893-1946

Bruno Munari

Bruno Munari

1907-1998


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Click on titles for more information

The Doll's House by Lothar Meggendorfer cover, a small brick house in a garden, underneath a blue sky

The Doll's House

Written and Illustrated by Lothar Meggendorger

1978

Originally Printed 1890

The Slant Book by Peter Newell cover, a police man, a butler, and a maid running on a slant

The Slant Book

Written and Illustrated by Peter Newell

1910

The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton 75th anniversary cover, a small pink house with trees on either side of it

Kerlan Features

The Little House

Written and Illustrated by Virginia Lee Burton

1942

A Child's Good Night Book by Margaret Wise Brown cover, a small baby in pink sleeping

A Child's Good Night Book

Written by Margaret Wise Brown

Illustrated by Jean Charlot

1943

Little Fur Family by Margaret Wise Brown cover, a small bear with a hat and furry stomach

Little Fur Family

Written by Margaret Wise Brown

Illustrated by Garth Williams

1946

Crocodile Tears by André François cover, a crocodile crawling towards the edge of the cover

Crocodile Tears

Written and Illustrated by André François

1956

Little Blue and Little Yellow by Leo Lionni cover, a blue color splotch and a yellow splotch overlapping to create a green splotch

Little Blue and Little Yellow

Written and Illustrated by Leo Lionni

1959

Inch by Inch by Leo Lionni cover, a worm in a cluster of tall grass

Inch by Inch

Written and Illustrated by Leo Lionni

1960

Corduroy Cover

Corduroy

Written and Illustrated by Don Freeman

1968

 The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle cover, a large green caterpillar with a red face

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Written and Illustrated by Eric Carle

1970

Strega Nona by Tomie de Paola cover, an elderly woman outside a small house and looking at several birds

Strega Nona

Written and Illustrated by Tomie DePaola

1975

 The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka cover, a cheese man running across the page surrounded by other strange fairy tale creatures

The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales

Written by Jon Scieszka

Illustrated by Lane Smith

1992

The Wheels on the Bus by Paul O Zelinsky cover, a man running to catch a bus

The Wheels on the Bus (A Book with Parts that Move)

Written and Illustrated by Paul O. Zelinksy

2000

Let It Shine by Ashley Bryan cover, collage of several human figures running through fields

Let It Shine: Three Favorite Spirituals

Written and Illustrated by Ashley Bryan

2007

Art of the Picture Book
The Size and Shape of Things