The Alcuin Society

Alcuin Society Book Design Awards24th Annual Awards for
Excellence in Book Design
in Canada

for books published in
2005

Franšais | This Year's Judges

 

Children

We were disappointed, overall, with this year's children's books. On the whole, the illustrations are quite strong, but the typography, the page design, and the interaction between the text design and the illustrations are not. In particular, we noticed that the typography in these books tends to be poor, that is, technically substandard, as if the publisher or the designer had concluded that in books intended for children, typography doesn't matter. But of course typography matters to children every bit as much as it matters to adults. And if children are not given good typography as children, they will not appreciate it when they grow to be adults.

Often in these books, the designers have chosen a playful typeface, and this is a very reasonable thing to do in a children's book. The problem is that the attention to typographic detail is almost always missing. Many of these books just seem to be going through the motions, very familiar in children's books: repeating perfectly standard approaches and perfectly standard illustrations. Most of the books we chose, however, despite the complaints we have made, are quite nice. They do manifest real attention to detail, and real creative work.

Children 1st Prize back to general winners

Title

Mixed Beasts : Or, a Miscellany of Rare and Fantastic Creatures

Designer

Karen Powers

Author

Kenyon Cox

Publisher

Kids Can Press

Illustrator

Wallace Edwards

Printer

Printed & bound in China

Trim Size

23 × 31cm

Mixed Beasts

Comments

The illustrations are superb. There is real creative thinking in this book. The text pages do a fine job in keeping up with the illustrations, the paper is well chosen, there is excellent imitation marbling on the endpapers, cases are well made and designed. The typeface itself is ordinary but the designer has handled it well.

Children 2nd Prize back to general winners

Title

Ten Counting Cat

Designer

Robert Chaplin

Author

Robert Chaplin

Publisher

Robert Chaplin

Illustrator

Robert Chaplin

Printer

Friesens

Trim Size

20 × 20cm

Ten Counting Cat

Comments

The typography in this book is very creative, very playful; the type and the illustrations are wonderfully integrated. The book is printed in only two colours, where almost everything else in this category is printed in four; but with two colours, the designer has managed to do everything that it was necessary to do.

Children 3rd Prize (tie) back to general winners

Title

By a Thread

Designer

Lynn O'Rourke

Author

Ned Dickens

Publisher

Orca Book Publishers

Illustrator

Graham Ross

Printer

Kings Time

Trim Size

17 × 29cm

By a Thread

Comments

What drew us to this book is the wonderfully playful typography, very skilfully done, and the thoroughgoing integration of the text and illustrations. It has a very fine cover, but the endpapers contribute less than they might.

Children 3rd Prize (tie) back to general winners

Title

The Highwayman

Designer

Karen Powers

Author

Alfred Noyes

Publisher

Kids Can Press

Illustrator

Murray Kimber

Printer

Printed & bound in China

Trim Size

13 × 22cm

The Highwayman

Comments

The overall production quality is high, good case, good endpapers, good paper and printing. The book is made to feel like a film: the illustrations remind us more of Raymond Chandler than of Alfred Noyes. They are very well done, and are part of the book, just as they are intended to be. The choice of type seems uninspired, and it is not set as well as one would wish.

Children Hon. Mention back to general winners

Title

A Brazilian Alphabet for the Younger Reader

Designer

Tim Inkster

Author

P.K. Page

Publisher

The Porcupine's Quill

Printer

The Porcupine's Quill

Trim Size

14 × 22cm

A Brazilian Alphabet

Comments

This book is very well printed on very good paper. It is also a lesson on how to do an historical book for children, using nineteenth century engravings, nice old typeface and old-fashioned spellings.

Children Hon. Mention back to general winners

Title

Picturescape

Designer

Elisa Gutiérrez

Author

Elisa Gutiérrez

Publisher

Simply Read Books

Illustrator

Elisa Gutiérrez

Printer

Phoenix Color

Trim Size

26 × 25cm

Picturescape

Comments

This is a story told entirely in pictures. These pictures are full of allusions to Canadian painters: Emily Carr, Tom Thomson, Alex Colville, Lawren Harris, and others. What it does, it does very well.

Children Hon. Mention back to general winners

Title

Nannycatch Chronicles

Designer

Elisa Gutiérrez

Author

James Heneghan & Bruce McBay

Publisher

Tradewind Books

Illustrator

Geraldo Valério

Printer

Friesens

Trim Size

14 × 21cm

Nannycatch Chronicles

Comments

The cover of this book and the jacket did not impress us. The type is not very well set, but the pages are nicely designed, and the pages and the text nicely interwoven. There is a good, and playful, table of contents.

^ back to top