Occasionally, children’s picture book art takes a left turn from traditional paint and pencil illustration into the somewhat sterile world of computer-generated imagery. Perhaps this is a moot point…it’s either good, or it’s not. Graphic imagery within a design context can be quite pleasing, but in general, I’m not a fan of digitalized art for picture books. Nevertheless, I suspect I am viewing it more often than I think I am. In fact, a few of my favourite artists use computers to augment their ‘old style’ illustrations, including Emily Gravett and Poly Bernatene, and I have to assume there are others. For what it’s worth, knowing that at some point an artist’s hands got messy is important to me. It’s like eating those perfectly peeled, tube-shaped baby carrots from the grocery store; they are so far removed from the dirt they are grown in, it’s hard to appreciate them as carrots.

But then…along comes Along a Long Road, a beautifully illustrated, completely charming picture book executed entirely on Adobe Illustrator. I can’t say whether or not Frank Viva’s hands got dirty making this book, but he was most certainly engaged in very detailed, creative work. And the medium, in this particular case, is perfect for the story. A digitalized palette is still a palette, even if nothing gets squeezed out of a tube.

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