Are you suffering from Peter Pan syndrome and have a love of picture books? Are you a parent burdened by the fact that your local library doesn’t have many children’s books in other languages? Do you just have a penchant for children’s stories and art work? Maybe you have an odd interest in exploring history and culture through children’s stories. If so, check out the Digital Gallery of World Picture Books (DGWPB).
The DGWPB allows people to see famous Japanese and Western picture books from the 18th century to the 1930s. Initially picture books started with illustrations meant as appendages to text. These images matured along with advances in print technology. With advances in printing arts around the 1920s, the picture book entered its “golden age.”
The DGWPB present 7 exhibits of many classics from the three eras of pictures books: “Era of Illustrated Books,” “Era of Picture Books,” and the “Golden Age of the Picture Book.” Three collections are of significance to Japan:
- “Edo Picture books and Japonisme” takes up picture books from the Edo period (1603-1867) like Momotoro and the Ogres’ Treasure House, Princess Hachikazuki, and Bunta the Salt Seller. Also introduced are picture books created in England that reveal Japonisme under the influence of ukiyo-e and other woodblock prints as part of the response of Western artists to Japanese art and culture.
- “Kodomo no Kuni: Artists and Children’s Books in 1920s Japan” introduces the picture book magazine Kodomo no kuni [Land of Children], publication of which began in 1920s Japan. It shows examples of the outstanding artwork, songs, and tales that flowered in this magazine under the influence of the Modernist movement.
- “Art and Daily Life: Modernism in the Picture Book” presents a selection of picture books made in the Soviet Union, the United States, Germany, and Japan from 1920 through the 1930s.
The Digital Gallery of World Picture Books provides great insight into resources that influenced children during different time periods in both art and culture. It’s not only a great exhibit for adults who may be doing research for academic or personal reasons, but those who simply want to explore their inner child. It would certainly be a fun resource to share with any child in your life too, whether they be your own children, niece or nephew, sibling or children of friends too!