A Celebration of Beatrix Potter: Art and Letters by More Than 30 of Today’s Favorite Children’s Book Illustrators

Beatrix Potter. Warne, $25 (112p) ISBN 978-0-241-24943-7
To commemorate Beatrix Potter’s 150th year, The Tale of Peter Rabbit’s first publisher invited 32 illustrators to reflect on Potter’s influence. Each artist shares nostalgic remarks and creates an illustration inspired by a Potter classic, alongside excerpts from nine Potter books. Understandably, remorseless gardener Mr. McGregor looms large in several images. Brendan Wenzel calls him “a near perfect bogeyman” and, in a spooky watercolor, depicts him staring through milky glasses; Kelly Murphy pictures him in the same inscrutable spectacles, brandishing a sharp-toothed rake. Peter Reynolds and Laura Vaccaro Seeger focus on Peter Rabbit’s mother (“She had suffered a terrible loss... and still she remained productive, optimistic, and loving,” writes Seeger, painting Peter’s plump mother with two babies). Tomie dePaola imagines Potter having tea with a human-size Mrs. Tiggy-winkle, Dan Santat pictures bullfrog Jeremy Fisher feverishly awaiting a bite on his fishing line, and David Wiesner alludes to his own frog fantasy, Tuesday, with Jeremy seated aboard a levitating lily pad. Bonus points go to Jarrett J. Krosoczka, who combines essay and illustration in a nine-panel comic, reflecting on how Potter drew from specimens: “I look up photos online. How lazy. I need to remember to be more like Beatrix Potter and draw from the wildlife that surrounds me.” (Krosoczka humorously shows himself drawing a pug—a far cry from a hedgehog or taxidermic squirrel, but a life-form nonetheless.) Ambitious readers might take a cue from the collection and envision Potter’s heroes in new settings, while longtime admirers will find their fond recollections mirrored in the artists’ words and images. Ages 3–7. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/03/2016
Release date: 11/01/2016
Genre: Children's
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