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Excuse Me Sir: Yes, This Is A Rant

By June 7, 2018May 13th, 2021The Kerlan Blog

First Things First

I read a blog posting titled Excuse Me Sir: Did You Forget Something? by writer Jacqueline Davies. Despite the fact that I knew that women artists are overlooked and uncelebrated by the mainstream, I saw red.

How can you talk about picture book art and not show the groundbreaking work of Emily Gravett ,



the work of  Lois Ehlert,

 Yuyi Morales,  

Melissa Sweet?

Ekua Holmes?

And  Shadra Strickland?

Jacqueline Davies wrote on her blog about her experience attending a workshop on Children’s Book Art at a writers conference “that was billed as a ‘two-hour crash course in art school.’ Awesome! I thought. That’s about as much time as I have to devote to art school at the moment.”

Please read the whole post and then come back

She noted that “Over the course of the two-hour lecture, 26 names were referenced in total; 25 of them were men. The only woman who was referenced at all during the two hours was mentioned in the last ten minutes and only in passing. I don’t even remember what was said about her, the reference was so brief. Her name was spoken once by the lecturer, and none of her work was shown on the screen. Male references: 96%. Female references: 4%.”

Who is Jacqueline Davies?

She is one of my favorite writers for that middle aged child sweet spot. Those nine to eleven year olds, those 4th, 5th and 6th graders. AND she has that gift of voice. The Lemonade War was a gift for our Mock Newbery discussions. I recall a student saying that this book had to win because it was “true.” People know that I have a weakness for the laugh-out-loud funny. That too.

AND picture book biography, The Boy Who Drew Birds:A Story of John James Audubon is a masterpiece and a gift for teachers and librarians looking to integrate STEM into their practice


Grace Lin, Writer and Artist Pointed Out

on her Facebook page that “I went to an elite art school, too. All students had to take art history using Janson’s “History of Art” a 572 pg-textbook included NO women until 1987.” Grace Lin

and quoted Jacqueline’s blog “He went to an elite art school…the knowledge he absorbed down to his cellular level—is that male artists matter and female artists hardly exist at all.”


Attention Must Be Paid

At the Children’s Literature Research Collections we created an open access digital resource for learning about children’s book art. Please use it and comment if helps your teaching and learning. 

Some Stats

The artists presented in this digital exhibit, Children’s Book Art: Techniques and Media

15/65=24% people of color /diverse

50/65=76% white

27/65=42% female

38/65=58% male

these only include artists that we hold in the Kerlan Collection. As our collection diversifies so will the on-line materials reflect that.

And I start thinking about artists like Susan Gabor (Bit By Bit) and why aren’t there more books illustrated by her.

Let’s Start the Celebration Now



I’ll go first

Holly Meade  Small Green Snake

Diane Goode Book of Silly Stories and Songs


Holly Keller

Denise Fleming   Mama Cat Had Three Kittens

LeUyen Pham


And Grace Lin, who brought the post to my attention.

Your Turn

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