Books meant for kids often have some of the best ideas for artists’ book structures. They are, in many respects, often quite similar–they have an emphasis on illustrations with perhaps a little bit of text. Sometimes they also have an unusual structure or shaped pages.
I recently came upon a couple of children’s books from an earlier era.
The first was sent to me by a friend. It’s a German translation of an English book that was called Animal Lore and Disorder. It advertises “more than 200 comic animals.” The pages are divided horizontally, so as you turn them, you create little mish-mashes of mixed up animals and mixed up descriptions to go with them. This here is a “Cowk,” a cow/elk: “This animal lives in the farmyard. He gives lots of milk and cream and…hunters often go around Canada hunting him.” The book itself is interestingly made. It is essentially a pamphlet with hard covers and a buckram spine. The paper cover wrapper is glued directly onto the book boards, with flaps left free. They tuck in around the front of the book. You can see the raw edges of the book board.
The second I found in a bargain bin at Eureka Books. It’s not in great condition, but I liked the form of it and the way it was made. It’s an accordion. The pages are shaped book board panels, all joined together with book cloth hinges and a cloth spine. It’s satisfying to open and arrange these heavy, smooth panels joined with cloth. The sections move in a way that wouldn’t be possible with the cheaper production methods of newer picture books.
I’m already imagining how elements of these two book forms can be worked into my artist’s books.