Thomas Moran | Arts and Life Editor
Displayed in one of the hallways of the Mayborn Museum Complex is one of its latest exhibits, “Young at Art: A Selection of Caldecott Book Illustrations,” which features illustrations from 28 Caldecott Award-winning artists.
According to the Association for Library Service to Children, the organization that awards the Caldecott Medal each year, the award is granted “to the artist of the most distinguished American Picture Book for Children published in the United States during the preceding year.”
Rebecca Nall works as the assistant director of exhibits, communication and visitor services at the Mayborn and books all of the traveling exhibits that come through the museum.
Since its opening in December, the exhibit has been well-received by the community and particularly appreciated by teachers and educators in the area, Nall said.
“It’s one of those smaller exhibits that we have on display,” Nall said. “But we have had a lot of people that are very excited about it. We’ve had a really great response. Like with the Eric Carle exhibit, there are teachers who are very excited to share this literature with their students.”
The traveling exhibit was developed by the Wichita Falls Museum of Art, which is a part of Midwestern State University, Nall said. The exhibit includes an illustration the first Caldecott Award recipient, Dorothy Lathrop, as well as a number of well-known authors and illustrators.
“We’ve got some from Chris Van Allsburg, who wrote and illustrated ‘The Polar Express’ and ‘Jumanji,’ and Maurice Sendack who did ‘Where the Wild Things Are,’” Nall said.
With a bachelor’s of science in child and family studies with a concentration in child development, Brownwood first-year graduate student Amanda Harris has come to understand the importance of effective illustration through first-hand experience.
“I’m pursuing a master’s of science in early child development, and I am a lead teacher for Piper Center for Family Studies and Child Development of Baylor University,” Harris said. “At Piper we use books and written materials to do research with children, read with children and to explore new topics of information with them. ”
While the images featured in the exhibit are beautiful, the importance of good illustrations reaches far beyond simple visual appeal, Harris said. Before we can read, messages and stories are shared with us through pictures and images which, in some ways, transcend the barriers of language and culture.
“Developmentally, children are learning from books the moment they start looking at them,” Harris said. “They learn that the pages go from left to right. They’re learning that the pictures help tell the story. They’re learning that the pictures and the words work together. A really well-done picture helps a child to work on social awareness, self-awareness, observation.”
Kim Pollard traveled to the Mayborn from Austin with her husband and three children to see the exhibit Monday.
“It’s really neat to see the artwork on display,” Pollard said. “We actually read a book about the Caldecott Award winners. We came to see the exhibit partially because of that.”
As a mother, Pollard said illustrations play a key role in reading to and with her children, and their importance continues beyond the early stages of reading.
“My kids really liked the ‘Arrow in the Sun’ and the ‘Frog and Toad All Year’ illustrations,” Pollard said. “The artwork is a big draw, even for my older kids. As they read more chapter books, they still like to see illustrated books and enjoy the artwork together.”
The “Young at Art: A Selection of Caldecott Book Illustrations” exhibit will be open until March 3. Admission is free for Baylor students, $8 for adults, $6 for children and $7 for seniors.