Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Naked Truth

Don't look so surprised, Coconut Sun.
Haven't you seen it all?

I want you to think back. Right now, I mean. Close your eyes and picture the illustrations from the picture book that was your fave. It can be either your fave from when you were little, or a current fave you now like to read to your bunny or your kitten. Oh -- or I guess, your child. :)

OK, let me edit that request a bit. Picture the picture book with animals that was your fave.

I'm talking Pooh, Bedtime for Francis, Wind in the Willows, Ferdinand, Sylvester and the Magic Pebble. Or, newer ones like Olivia, Guess How Much I Love You, Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus.

Now, do you have one in mind?

Tell me this: are the animals wearing clothes? Are they partially clothed? Or, are they naked?

This is a great conversation to have at work, in particular if you work at a library.

But it's also a great conversation for a party in case you're looking for a good ice breaker.

Just what is the criteria for clothes on animals in stories? Has there even ever been a criteria?

I think back to the story Bread and Jam for Frances for instance. Sometimes Francis has on a full outfit. Other times she wears only a shirt. Francis' mother wears a a petticoat, dress, apron, and even a bonnet. Francis' father often wears only pants. The baby, Gloria, is almost always pictured completely naked.

This cover shows the range of clothes on animals:
from the overly clothed to the naked. Disturbing? Perhaps...

Pooh, on the other hand, along with Olivia, and the Wind in the Willows animals consistently wear shirts with no pants or in this picture of Olivia, below, pants with no shirts:

When I draw animals, I have to say, I usually refer to the wishes of my client or audience. For instance when I painted this representative Zoe in Miss Zoe's room, Zoe and I discussed the issue at length before the mural was painted:

Obviously, we decided on clothes...

So, tell us, then. Where do you side on this issue?


No clothes?

Partial clothes?

Answer carefully...at your peril.


bLu eYd YoGi said...

YEAH! I am soooooooo happy that u love ur squishy Frida doll! I LOVE your art~ I have been an admirer for a long time! So nice to meet u!

Teaching Kids Yoga said...

My favorite books as a kid were the Harry the dog books. In my favorite - Harry the Dirty Dog, he had no clothes (this was not related to the title though). But in No Roses for Harry - he got a sweater that ended up on his What Not to Wear list. Ah - good memories!

Emma said...

Hahaha! This post cracked me up. I need to think about this more.

I think any level of clothing (or lack of clothing) can work, but you're right that it's weird to think about what it means when sometimes the characters do wear clothes and something they don't. I guess those are communities of animals who are very comfortable with their bodies. :)

My brain is freezing now and I can't think of animal picture books, even though I love picture books. I have written a picture book that features animals, actually, and they are going to have to wear clothes for the story.