Two alumni of the MFA Illustration as Visual Essay Department have each just published their debut children’s book. Shadra Strickland (MFA 2005 Illustration as Visual Essay) inked the new book Bird (Lee & Low, 2008). The title is drawn from the main character, Mekhai, a child who loves to draw and goes by the nickname Bird. The story shows how the young boy uses art to cope with real-life problems, such as the death of his beloved grandfather, and Strickland’s illustrations move fluidly between Bird’s reality and imagination.
The other debut comes from Hyewon Yum (MFA 2006 Illustration as Visual Essay), who has written and illustrated Last Night (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008). The book tells a story of a girl who is sent to her room for refusing dinner, curls up with her favorite teddy bear and dreams up an adventure in a nighttime forest. Yum uses linoleum-block prints to bring to life the fantasy story (as well as the teddy bear, who becomes a central character in the dream), wordlessly communicating a full range of narrative twists and emotions for young readers.