Children's book graphics paint a picture of success

The illustrators of Chinese children's books remain among the most internationally awarded artists thanks to their consistent use of unique and traditional styles of artistic expression, according to Zuzana Jarosova, general

commissioner of the Biennial of Illustrations Bratislava.

"There is always the masterful craftsmanship, painting or drawing talent that the jury appreciates about Chinese illustrations, as they maintain high quality and are masterpieces of art," says Jarosova.

Chinese illustrator Chen Xunru received the Golden Apple award for her artwork in the book Bull King Festival at the ongoing 29th edition of the BIB in Slovakia, which started on Oct 4 and runs until Dec 3.

Chen is the seventh Chinese illustrator to have received such an award. This year, the international BIB jury judged 2,072 illustrations by 275 illustrators from 36 countries and regions.

Jarosova says the jurors are always looking for artists who are authentic and original while keeping their deep connection to culture, traditions and the mastery of old techniques.

Jarosova has been overseeing the competition for the past 16 years. The first Chinese illustrator to win a Golden Apple was Cai Gao in 1993, she recalls.

Illustrations in children's books play a key role in their mental development, as a good illustrator can elevate the story and build additional floors of the architecture of imagination, thus kick-starting the small readers' fantasy, Jarosova notes.

Art for children is also one of the best ways to build bridges of cooperation and understanding between various cultures of the world, she says.

The BIB, established more than half a century ago, is one of the most prestigious competitions for children's book illustrations, and it is supported by UNESCO and the International Board on Books for Young People.

An international tour exhibition of picture books from China was held as an accompanying event at this year's BIB from Sept 28 to Oct 14.

The exhibition was well received and was the first time people had the opportunity to see interesting illustrators from China to such a great extent, Jarosova says.

This edition of the BIB also welcomed a Chinese delegation, including illustrators formerly awarded by the BIB, authors and publishers, and was a wonderful experience for them and for us, she adds.

"We agreed upon organizing many events together, and I will do everything I can for cooperation to continue and improve further," Jarosova says.