What makes a children’s book illustration really engaging.


I was looking over some old work recently and I uncovered this gem. I want to share with you why this image really captured my attention.

The main reason for me is the image tells the story in a sophisticated way. On a simple level there is a little boy and his cat thinking about a story of a giant stealing a goat. But if you look again there are a number sub-plots that seem to support the main message. These details keep me entertained and interested.

I first thing I notice is giant pulling the goat’s tail. Both the giant’s face and the goat’s face tell a story. My eye then moves to the two men pulling the goat in the opposite direction. They seem to enhance the action by pulling the goat away from the giant. I then notice the boy on his bed is pulling the cat’s paw. They are mirroring the scene happening in the main image. Finally I notice the goats on the bottom of the page, who seem to be looking at the battle with interest and perhaps fear or anticipation.

I think what made this image successful was not simply the drawing or painting. The real success was in the art direction. I worked intensely with the author and the publisher. I literally sat and drew in front of them.


Let em know what you think in the comments. Do you like the image? What do you think makes it work?

I hope to post a few more images from past projects in the future.


2 thoughts on “What makes a children’s book illustration really engaging.”

  1. Great image, Darrell!
    I like the way you treated the disputed goat and the giant with warmer colours, higher contrast and thicker lines to make the imagined image ‘more real than reality’. A child’s imagination beautifully realised!

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