Shelving books one day in the library, I was struck by an illustration style with classic elements, and an airy feeling that encouraged me to ask, “Who drew this?” The book was Infinity and Me by Kate Hosford, which joyfully questions how a child can attempt to understand the concept of infinity.
The artists is Gabi Swiatkowska. She lives in France, and her artwork feels like an homage to classic French illustrations with a decidedly modern twist. The color pallete is muted, mostly earth-tones, and grey shades, interspersed with pops of red from the girl’s shoes. Decorative wallpaper segments adorn the pages, and give the book a timeless feel, so appropriate for a book about Infinity.
This Baby, is a book by Kate Banks, which was also illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska. The book is about a big sister who encourages her mom to get prepared for the new baby. It’s told in a whimsical, sing-song format, and the text is hand written rather than type faced. The images are more painterly than drawn. Brushstrokes are visible and primary colors fill the pages. We enter the girl’s fantasy visions of what the baby looks like in the womb, and imagine with her all of the things that the baby will do and wear.
Ms. Swiatkowska wrote and illustrated the picture book, Queen on Wednesday. It follows a young girl, Thelma, who fantasizes about being the queen. She thinks through all of the things that she’ll need and do, and then returns to her normal life. The text marches through the days of the week, and gives readers the chance to think about the practical reality of a life that may seem glamorous from far away.
The illustrations in Queen on Wednesday are muted and contain both drawn, and painted qualities. The text is written as opposed to typed which leads the readers eyes to dance and bounce with the shapes of the words and sentences. The children drawn in the book have stark faces with expressive eyes and eyebrows. They almost look like old fashioned paper dolls.
In Mary Cassatt: Extraordinary Impressionist Painter, Gabi Swiatkowski mimics Cassatt’s style without doing an exact reproduction- with glorious results. This picture book biography of the famous 1880’s painter gives a gorgeous visual introduction to the painter’s work. The book finishes with a two page biography of Mary Cassatt as well as a list of sources for further exploration.
These are just a few of the many books that Ms. Swiatkowska has created. She has won a myriad awards and is just one of hundreds of interesting illustrators that can be discovered at your local library.