Global Differences and Picture Book Illustrations

One of the fun parts of my job is working with illustrators. Last week a Minneapolis author/illustrator came to our offices for a meeting. What a treat to be able to all sit down together and talk! But other times, an illustrator we’re working with may live halfway around the world. While we’re sometimes aware of the differences between different countries, from time to time, something will catch me by surprise. Here are a few recent examples.

This sketch is from the book A Fraction’s Goal—Parts of a Whole. Brian Gable, the illustrator, lives in Toronto, Canada. Check out those mayors!


While I’d love to see Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak in a similar getup, it’s probably not very likely to happen. So we asked for a few changes. Here is how the final art turned out:


The book Watch Over Our Water was illustrated by Xiao Xin, who lives in Shanghai, China. This sketch was our first indication that we were going to need to provide a reference image for what a typical U.S. bathroom with a tub looks like:

Water - bathroom sketch

Here is the final art:

Water - bathroom final

And here is a sketch for Emma’s Easter from Constanza Basaluzzo of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Apparently not everyone around the world enjoys marshmallow-filled bunnies on Easter morning!

Easter candy-1

We gathered a few reference images, and here’s how the final art turned out:

Easter candy-2

I really enjoy working with illustrators from all around the world, and I certainly don’t expect them to be experts on all aspects of life in the United States. And sometimes, the sketches we get make me laugh at my own assumptions about what is universal and what is not.

2 thoughts on “Global Differences and Picture Book Illustrations

  1. bookkm

    Our mayors need a little more pomp, I agree. And our bathrooms probably seem like a waste of space to people in China and Japan.

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