Illustrating Children's Books by Martin Salisbury is a gem! With full color illustrations as well as examples from artist's sketchbooks on every page, it has a very right-brain approach to the subject matter. As well it should! While there are many images, and a lot of type to read, it is clear that a lot of time and effort was spent putting this book together. Not only is this book well organized, it is engrossing.
Chapters & Text follow the standard chronological path of development of ideas to publishing. Mr. Salisbury's book begins with an introduction, and short but important history of 19th & 20th century books. He cites influences, technological advances, and gives beautiful examples of books on the international market that you may not have seen or would be able to find here.
Drawing, media & materials and techniques, and arguments for going digital are the broad chapter headlines. Each chapter is then broken down into specifics such as; the life studio, (why you need to draw every day) on location drawing, and media techniques such as oils, black & white, collage, and many more. These chapters in the book are important in the over all focus, however I would still explore more specialized art books if you don't have experience using some of the media suggested here.
The central focus of this book goes on to study character development, concepts for the picture book, and illustrating for older children. And again everything from getting to know your characters, form, sequence, adding drama and making a good solid mock-up are covered. In these sections I really appreciated the case studies which are artist / author interviews similar to the short features found in the Communications Arts magazine. John Lawrence and Martin Waddell's book Tiny's Big Adventure is one example. In this short interview they discuss editing, and the process of working with a designer to get to the final lay out. Several mock-ups and sketches that they could have used along with the last design are shown.
Finally the books last chapters cover nonfiction illustration, history, how-to books, alphabets, counting, and pop-ups. Design, Layout, composition and typography as image have their own chapter. Getting published is the crucial last section. Professional approaches, the publishers view, contracts & money, glossary of industry terms, reading list and of course a few additional books and illustration organizations neatly wrap it all up.
In review, my guess is that this book could have easily been triple in size. Like a good children's book however, it's been distilled down to it's most important parts. I would highly recommend this both to the illustrator or author who works in the field, and especially students at art schools who are interested in pursuing illustrating as a career.