Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Some of My Favorite Picture Book Endpapers

One of my favorite things about picture books are their endpapers - the artwork that appears on the inside of the front and back covers of many titles. I like the way they can serve as a gateway into the story, dropping hints and clues about the book ahead before a single word of text has yet appeared and setting a specific mood and tone, or the way they can bring a book full circle even after the story seems to have ended. For a while, there was a wonderful account on Instagram that featured beautiful and interesting endpapers, and I got into the  habit of sharing the endpapers from some of the books I was reading. That account hasn't been updated in nearly a year, but I still find myself collecting images of my favorite endpapers every now and then. Today, in response to Blog All About It's April topic, Art, and as my post for Top Ten Tuesday's freebie topic for this week, I want to share those images here.

This sweet and simple endpaper is the first illustration that appears in Aliki's picture book adaptation of an old folk song, Go Tell Aunt Rhody. The song is about a group of children having to tell their aunt that the goose she has been saving to make a feather bed has died in the millpond, leaving behind her children. This quilt foretells the ending of the book, where Aunt Rhody snuggles down in her new warm bed after plucking the goose's feathers.

These endpapers appear in Poppleton in Winter by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Mark Teague. As with all the books in the series, these endpapers are in the form of a map which not only reflects the season in which the story is set, but also shows some of the characters taking part in events from the story. In the lower left-hand corner of this image, Poppleton himself (who is a pig) can be seen wearing a brown coat and building a snowman, while his best friend, a llama named Cherry Sue, is shown cross-country skiing in the upper left.

These endpapers come from an edition of The House at Pooh Corner, and they show a playful parade of all the beloved characters from the Hundred Acre Wood in silhouette, with their signatures scrawled beneath them. There is something so sweet and nostalgic about this image, and the movement of their characters and the way their names are written provide subtle insight into the characters' personalities and quirks.

These endpapers come from the front (top) and back (bottom) of a newer picture book, Hey Coach! by Linda Ashman, illustrated by Kim Smith, which was published in 2016. The story follows a team of first-time soccer players through their very first season with their understanding and patient coach. The endpapers show the changes in the team and in the coach from the beginning of the story to the end by illustrating what appears on the coach's bulletin board before and after soccer season.

This map, showing the homes of a variety of animals, serves as the endpaper for the classic children's novel Rabbit Hill by Robert Lawson, which won the Newbery Medal in 1945. Especially noteworthy, in my opinion, is the statue of St. Francis that appears in the garden. It looks unassuming upon first glance that you might not even really notice it, but once you've read the book, you realize how significant this statue is to the main theme of the story, and how much the endpapers really reveal about the book overall.

This compilation of original sketches by Maurice Sendak appears as the endpaper of Making Mischief: A Maurice Sendak Appreciation by Gregory Maguire. I like these images for the same reason I like the book: they highlight Sendak's amazing range as an illustrator. He captured such beauty, humor, and personality in each of his drawings, and there has never been an artist quite like him before or since.

These images, done by John Rocco in the style of Virginia Lee Burton come from Sherri Duskey Rinker's picture book biography. Big Machines: The Story of Virginia Lee Burton. This is one of the best picture book biographies I have ever read. It tells only the facts that are of interest to kids, and that pertain to Burton's work (writing and illustrating children's books about machines), and Rocco's illustrations are a beautiful homage to Burton's artistic style that manage to pay tribute to her artwork without flat-out copying it. Fans of Burton's work can find all their favorite characters from her books right here on the endpapers, which can only inspire them to want to read the text too.

Endpapers in nonfiction books often have lots of great trivia and details that are not included in the text proper, but which enrich the reading experience. This is the case in Peter Spier's picture book adaptation of The Star-Spangled Banner. This photograph shows just one snippet of these intricate endpapers, which include the different versions of the U.S. Flag shown here, as well as the flags of the branches and officers of the military, the president and vice president, the secretaries of defense, state, and agriculture and a diagram of the standard proportions of the US flag.

Finally, this endpaper appears in a 1953 book by Maud and Miska Petersham called Story of the Presidents of the United States. It features short biographies of all the presidents from Washington to Eisenhower, and the endpapers show the signature of each president. As someone whose favorite memorial in Washington DC is The Memorial to the 56 Signers of the Declaration of Independence, which displays each man's signature, I was instantly drawn to these endpapers and enjoyed comparing each president's handwriting to that of those before and after him.

Which of these endpapers do you like best? Are there other picture book endpapers you love? 


  1. Such a fun topic for today's "blogger choice." :)

    Some of the books I own have STUNNING endpapers (so much so that it's a shame they have to be hidden). Though most of mine that do are in the YA book genre.

  2. Oh my goodness! What gorgeous illustrations. I love looking at picture books. :-)

  3. AMAZING post. I recently blogged about my favourite things about books, and one of those things was detailed endpaper. These are lovely.

  4. What a fun and exciting take on this week's freebie and what excellent examples! Favorite Reads of the Past Ten Years

  5. Oh these are all gorgeuous but as occasional patchworker/quilter I especially love the first one

  6. What a fun and original topic for this week! I love looking at picture books, and I enjoy the end papers. I think my favorite of the ones you've listed here is The House at Pooh Corner. Here is our Top Ten Tuesday.

  7. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your topic! Excellent! Pooh is best, right? Lol... or the Presidents. Super job this week!

    Lisa @ https://hopewellslibraryoflife.wordpress.com/2018/04/17/top-ten-tuesday-ten-books-about-extraordinary-women/

  8. Wow, what a fun list. I do agree that picture books have really gorgeous back covers. Though I have just one picture books with me, I really wnat to get more :)

    My TTT: http://flippingthruthepages.com/2018/04/ten-beautiful-libraries-i-want-to-visit/

  9. What a unique post!!I cannot think of any endpapers but I think your list is here is terrific!!

  10. This is such a great topic! I love end papers too!

  11. LOVE this post, Katie - what great works of art that we too often take for granted. Reading this encourages me to appreciate them more!

  12. You know, I've never really given much thought to endpapers before, but some of these are just stunning. Nice twist on the "art" topic!

    Visiting from Blog All About It

  13. Really creative post. Thanks for sharing.