Television Animation vs. Picture-Book Illustration
Just to let you know up front, I’m not the kind of guy who chooses sides. For example, I love all kinds of pizza (thin and thick crust, Chicago-style, etc.), I tend not to watch television shows like Cupcake Wars (a competition about cupcakes? C’mon!), and I’m equally happy rooting for the Yankees or the Mets.
In my opinion, neither animation nor illustration is better than the other, and as with all things, each has its own assets and liabilities.
In case you didn’t know, I work in both mediums. I’ve written and illustrated over fifty picture books, including Doug Unplugged, The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau, and Lawn to Lawn, and created, produced, and designed characters for three animated series—The Backyardigans, Oswald, and Willa’s Wild Life.
And I love doing both.
The great joy of reading picture books is that there’s room for discussion—and your little one can sit on your lap. It’s a very intimate and loving experience that I used to look forward to when my children were younger. These days I doubt if I’d want my son to sit on my lap, since he weighs almost as much as I do.
Now I’m not saying there can’t be discussion or lap sitting while watching animation, but I don’t think it can compare to reading a book together (especially with my exemplary voice skills). However, I’ve seen way more children engaged in imaginative play based on animated characters rather than book characters, which to me means that animation has a great, and possibly greater, influence on them.
I sometimes laugh when I hear people denounce television because of some bad shows. That would be like writing off children’s books because of some bad books (and believe me, there are some bad books out there). Just because it’s TV doesn’t automatically mean it’s bad. I’ve seen some pretty incredible animated shows for kids (and would like to think I created and produced one that falls into that category). And by virtue of it being a book doesn’t mean it’s good because there are some pretty lousy books out there, which means that it isn’t TV vs. books, but bad TV and books vs. good TV and books.
So then it’s an entirely different competition and an old one, too. High quality vs. mediocrity. Superior material vs. low-grade junk. Good vs. bad.
Who decides what’s good and what’s bad? As parents, caregivers, and adults, you do. For the most part, you decide what your little one is going to read and watch, which means you’re going to read and watch lots and lots of books and TV series in order to figure out what’s right for them.
Believe me, I’ve previewed loads of things that never made it to the eyes and ears of my children, and I think about the hours I spent, but know it wasn’t wasted because I see who they are today. I believe that when you surround your children with high-quality influences, you just may get high-quality adults.
I hope they’ll be doing the same thing for their own children in the future, which is a good thing because I plan on doing a lot of reading and TV watching, as well as a bunch of other things, with my grandchildren someday.
About the Author
Children the world over know Dan Yaccarino from his children’s books, Parent’s Choice Award-winning animated TV series Oswald (Nick Jr) and Emmy-winningWilla’s Wild Life (NBC and Qubo) and character designs for The Backyardigans (Nickelodeon), as well as his many illustrated toys, games, and other children’s products. His bold, stylized illustrations add wit and energy to the work of such prestigious authors as Margaret Wise Brown, Jack Prelutsky, Kevin Henkes and Patricia MacLachlan in addition to his own stories.
By Dan Yaccarino
“Yaccarino’s flat, retro-futuristic compositions utilize unmodulated matte colors and sharp edges to create a world in which a robot boy interacts with human girls, spare use of curving lines investing organic creatures with warmth.” —Kirkus Reviews
From internationally acclaimed author-illustrator Dan Yaccarino, creator of the wildly successful animated TV series Willa’s Wild Life and the producer of Oswald, comes DOUG UNPLUGS ON THE FARM —a terrific companion to his first book of low-tech learning, Doug Unplugged. In this next volume, Doug the robot spends the day on a farm and discovers the joys of cows, chickens, and learning by doing (instead of Googling).
Doug and his parents are going to visit the grandbots! They’ll be driving through farm country, so his parents want Doug to “buckle up and plug in,” so he can learn all about farming. But when their car ends up in a ditch and they all come unplugged—that’s when the real learning begins. Doug helps a farm girl round up some sheep, milks a cow, gathers eggs, feeds the pigs—and figures out an ingenious way to get his family’s car back on the road. It’s a day of low-tech doing for a high-tech boy, and he’s never learned more (or had more fun)!
DOUG UNPLUGS ON THE FARM is a lively celebration of farm life and the value of hands-on learning that will encourage kids to go screen-free and explore the real world!
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers | July 22, 2014 | ISBN-13: 978-0385753289