Have you ever stumbled on something and wondered why you didn’t know about it twenty years ago? That’s how I feel about Kinuko Craft. She did the cover for Wildwood Dancing, and since seeing that, a friend and I have both become a little obsessed with her art. And apparently she’s been doing covers and illustrations for years! How did I not discover this sooner?
Most recently, I tracked down a beautiful picture book, The Twelve Dancing Princesses by Marianna Meyer and illustrated by Kinuko Craft. I’ve talked about the dancing princesses a lot in various other retellings, and this one doesn’t offer a lot that’s new in the story itself. A slight twist on a few elements, but mostly a straight-forward retelling. But the pictures are lovely. Apparently this is just my week for talking about illustrations!
Almost every alternate page is a full-page illustration, with illustrated sidebars on the text pages. The detail and intricacy of the art is wonderful. Some pictures are relatively simple, such as a man working in a field (although even that has an entire sweeping landscape behind him). Others are a swirl of faces and dresses, showing all twelve princesses. One dark picture shows the mysterious castle on the far side of the magic lake; another is riot of color in a flower garden.
The hero is drawn a little cherubic for my taste, but the princesses and their dresses are beautiful. I think my two favorite pictures are when the hero is approaching the castle, showing the stretch of mountains and water before him, and a picture showing dozens of couples dancing in a vast hall lit by chandeliers.
But why take my word on what they look like? Better to just put up a few pictures!
Illustrator’s Site: http://www.kycraft.com/