The Illustration Style of Garth Williams

The Illustration Style of Garth Williams

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The Illustration Style of Garth Williams


Several Laura Ingalls Wilder books were illustrated by Garth Williams. Williams was born in 1912 and died only a few year ago in 1996. During his lifetime he has illustrated more than sixty books for many well-known authors of children's books. He has also written and illustrated a few of his own books. In the following paragraphs you will read about the difference styles Williams used in Little House on the Prarie, by Lara Ingalls Wilder and Charlottes Web, E. B. White.

Williams's style of illustration is simple with great attention to details that are not written out in the texts that the picture belongs to. He uses basic black graphite or charcoal to make his drawings for Wilder and for Charlotte's Web by E.B. White as well.

In Wilder's, Little House on the Prairie, Williams illustrated an important event that contributes to a change, confrontation or celebration for the family. In the first few pages of the story Williams illustrated the dramatic good-byes the family receives from relatives and friends. Williams shows you a little bit of everything that is going on in the beginning in preparation for a long wagon trip. In the picture, the reader sees Pa and other men getting the horses ready to hitch to the wagon, as well as the families belongings packed in the wagon. One can also see by the lights and darks of the picture that it is still semi dark outside and probably fairly early in the morning. One can tell this by the glow of the lanterns that a few people are holding. Beyond the drawing of the wagon the readers is not able to see any facial expressions in this picture, but only their profiles of the people.

In comparison to Charlotte's Web, many techniques are shared. The graphite or charcoal drawings are simple yet well detailed. A difference in the style of illustration in Charlotte's Web is that Williams has made the main focus of the pictures the facial features and expressions. If one were to look on page two of Charlotte's Web, when Fern is trying to stop her father from killing the baby pig, the reader can see that Pa is quite shocked by his daughters reaction to the killing of a new born animal. Williams adds a little more to the story than just what is written in the text.

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He added drama to the written words.

"Williams believed that books 'given, or read, to children can have a profound influence'. For that reason, he said, he used his illustrations to try to 'awaken something of importance...humor, responsibility, respect for others, interest in the world at large'.

With his own sense of innocence and wonderment, Williams created a world of storybook characters" (Slegg, Jennifer). With his heartwarming touch, Williams drawings are loved by so many authors and readers. Williams adds an extra touch to these stories with his talents and his wide range of characters and styles.


Sources Cited

Slegg, Jennifer. Garth Williams. HarperCollins Children's Library listserve.

http://vvv.com/~jenslegg/williams.htm, May 17, 1996.

White, E. B. Charlotte's Web. New York: Harper, 1952.

Wilder, Laura Ingalls. Little House on the Prairie. 1935. Illustrated by Garth Williams in 1953. New York: Harper and Row.
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