Less is More in many things, and in picture books for the young, this is often the case.
With books for the very young, there are good reasons for this, relating to a small child’s ability to focus, learn and enjoy their experience of a book. For older readers, it can be more about style and composition.
Many of the pages in Thunderstorm Dancing will have complex layering. Often this is about providing a contrast with the more spare, dramatic, or still places in the spreads. This piano stool for instance, rough-hewn as it is, has a pleasing simplicity for me, but it will barely be seen amid the deliberate clutter of an interior scene in Thunderstorm Dancing. On this spread, the left hand clutter will contrast the right hand spareness, and mark a transition from real world to fantasy world.
Hopefully all this will work in the finished book. But I also look forward to a time in the near future when I can make a book that stops here; with the stool and the scrubby smear of shadow, the flash of colour. All on a plain or very minimal background. Something about this kind of simplicity works so well with the printed word on the page, and picture books are one of the few places where we can enjoy this bold, sweet and simple effect. It’s a big part of why I love picture books so much.