Chapter books are easy-to-read first novels for children ages six to nine. These books generally act as a bridge between easy readers and middle grade novels. Chapter books are typically forty-five to one hundred pages long, divided into six to ten short chapters, with simple sentences and vocabulary and lots of white space—there are only around fifteen lines per right-justified page, and a black-and-white illustration every few pages. In short, chapter books serve to introduce the idea and structure of novels to beginning readers.
Although chapter books are illustrated, they are very different from picture books and easy readers. In chapter books, there are two thousand to five thousand more words of text, and the story idea depends on the written word, not the illustrations. Readers use the text to fuel their imagination of the story, rather than primarily the pictures, as in picture books, or the pictures and the text together, as in easy readers. Because of the additional text, there is more room to develop setting, characters, and plot than in the shorter books. Additionally, the size and shape of the books are more along the lines of middle grade novels for older children.
As expected, compared to middle grade novels, chapter books are much more simplistic. Chapter books tend to have a single plotline with no subplots, and in addition to fewer and shorter chapters, they tend to be episodic in nature. The typeface is much larger than in middle grade novels, and there are fewer words per page. Because of their shorter length and because of their audience's limited reading skills and attention spans, there are fewer characters and less complex themes, and both are revealed by dialogue and action— descriptive paragraphs or internal thoughts are almost nonexistent in chapter books. Finally, the time frame in which the story takes place is often condensed to just a few days, and the characters tend to be under the age of ten.
Chapter books as a genre are relatively new in children's books. With the development of the “whole language” movement in the 1980s, there was a strong emphasis in schools for reading instruction to be based on entire or whole works of literature, rather than on excerpts or canned segments in basal readers. A big gap was discovered between books produced for easy readers, like Frog and Toad (1979), and middle grade novels, like those of Beverly Cleary. Publishers then began producing books written specifically at the second grade and third grade reading level. Most publishers now actively seek chapter book novels and, furthermore, some, like Random House's Stepping Stones, have whole lines devoted to the genre.
The format and reading level of chapter books make them easy to serialize, and many readers are very loyal to series like Mary Pope Osborne’s Magic Treehouse, Suzy Kline’s Song Lee, Barbara Park’s Junie B. Jones, Patricia Reilly Giff’s Polk Street School, David Adler’s Cam Jansen, and Ann Cameron’s The Stories Julian Tells. Other chapter books are single, standalone titles, like Sarah, Plain and Tall (1989) by Patricia Maclachlan. These books are filling a niche in the market—they appeal to beginning readers who aspire to read books that look like those of their older friends and siblings.
|This biographical article is written like a résumé. Please help improve it by revising it to be neutral and encyclopedic. (June 2008)|
Leo Dillon was raised in Brooklyn, New York and Diane Sorber hails from the Greater Los Angeles Area. The couple met met at the Parsons School of Design in New York City in 1953. They graduated in 1956 and married the next year. They describe their work as incorporating motifs derived from their respective heritages. They have worked on both on children's literature and adult paperbacks. An association with writer Harlan Ellison led to jobs doing book covers for his short story collections and both cover and interior woodcut illustration for his anthology Dangerous Visions. They illustrated a large number of book covers for the original Ace Science Fiction Specials.
A detailed biography and introduction to their work and styles was written by Byron Preiss in a book he edited in 1981, The Art of Leo & Diane Dillon.
On May 28, 2012, Ellison reported on his website his reception of a phone call from Diane announcing Leo's death at 79 years from lung cancer two days prior. Spectrum Fantastic Art, an art exhibit project of which the couple were general managers, confirmed Leo's death on its website. The Dillons had one surviving son, Lee.
- Graduated: Parsons School of Design (1956)
- Typography: The American Institute of Graphic Arts
- Woodcut: School of Visual Arts — Byrne Hogarth
- Printmaking: Bob Blackburn
- Pochoir: Mitzi Barrien
- Doctorates of Fine Arts: Parsons School of Design (1991)
Picture books illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon
- 1970 The Ring in the Prairie - Author: John Bierhorst / Dial Press
- 1972 Honey, I Love - Author: Eloise Greenfield / Viking
- 1974 Whirlwind Is a Ghost Dancing - Compiled by: Natalia Maree Belting / Dutton
- 1974 Songs and Stories from Uganda - Authors: W. Moses Serwadda, Hewitt Pantaleoni / World Music Press
- 1974 The Third Gift - Author: Jan R. Carew / Little Brown
- 1975 The Hundred Penny Box - Author: Sharon Bell Mathis / Viking
- 1975 Song of the Boat - Author: Lorenz B. Graham / Crowell
- 1976 Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears - Author: Verna Aardema / Dial Press
- 1977 Ashanti to Zulu: African Traditions - Author: Margaret Musgrove / Dial Press
- 1977 Who’s in Rabbit’s House: A Masai Tai - Author: Verna Aardema / Dial Press
- 1980 Two Pair of Shoes - Author: P.L. Travers / Viking Press
- 1980 Children of the Sun - Author: Jan R. Carew / Little Brown
- 1985 Brother to the Wind - Author: Mildred Pitts Walter / Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books
- 1986 All in a Day Authors: Mitsumasa Anno, Raymond Briggs / Hamish Hamilton (London) (Translation of: Marui chiky¯u no maru ichinichi.) - illustrations by 10 artists, including the Dillons
- 1987 The Porcelain Cat - Author: Hearn, Michael Patrick Little Brown
- 1989 The Color Wizard - Author: Barbara Brenner / Bantam Little Rooster
- 1990 The Tale of the Mandarin Ducks - Author: Katherine Paterson / Lodestar
- 1990 Aïda - Author: Leontyne Price / Harcourt Brace Jovanovich
- 1991 The Race of the Golden Apples - Author: Claire Martin / Dial Books for Young Readers
- 1991 Pish, Posh, Said Hieronymus Bosch - Author: Nancy Willard / Harcourt Brace Jovanovich
- 1992 Northern Lullaby - Author: Nancy White Carlstrom / Putnam
- 1992 Switch on the Night - Author: Ray Bradbury / Knopf
- 1993 The Sorcerer’s Apprentice - Author: Nancy Willard / Scholastic/Blue Sky Press
- 1994 What Am I ? - Author: N.N. Charles Scholastic/Blue Sky Press
- 1997 To Everything There is a Season Authors: L&D Dillon / Scholastic/Blue Sky Press
- 1999 Wind Child - Author: Shirley Rousseau Murphy / HarperCollins
- 2000 Switch on the Night reissued - Author: Ray Bradbury / Knopf
- 2000 The Girl Who Spun Gold - Author: Virginia Hamilton / Scholastic/Blue Sky Press
- 2001 Two Little Trains - Author: Margaret Wise Brown / HarperCollins
- 2002 Rap a Tap Tap: Here's Bojangles—Think of That - Authors and Illustrators: Leo and Diane Dillon / Scholastic/Blue Sky Press
- 2003 One Winter’s Night - Author: John Herman / Philomel
- 2004 Where Have You Been? - Author: Margaret Wise Brown / HarperCollins
- 2005 The People Could Fly - The Picture Book
- 2005 Earth Mother - Author: Ellen B. Jackson / Walker & Company
- 2006 Whirlwind is a Spirit Dancing - Author: Natalia Maree Belting; Bruchac, Joseph / Milk & Cookies Press (NOTE: illustrations reprinted from 1974 title, Whirlwind is a Ghost Dancing)
- 2007 Mother Goose numbers on the loose / Harcourt
- 2007 Jazz on a Saturday Night / Blue Sky Press
Chapter books illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon
- 1964 The Sea and the Jungle - Author:H. M. Tomilson / Time/ Time Reading Program Special Edition
- 1964 Hakon of Rogen’s Saga - Author: Erik Christian Haugaard / Houghton Mifflin
- 1965 A Slave’s Tale Haugaard - Author: Erik Christian Haugaard / Houghton Mifflin
- 1967 Claymore and Kilt - Author: Sorche Nic Leodhas Holt, Rinehart, Winston
- 1968 Shamrock and Spear Pilkington Holt, Rinehart, Winston
- 1968 The Rider and His Horse - Author: Erik Christian Haugaard / Houghton Mifflin
- 1971 The Untold Tale - Author: Erik Christian Haugaard / Houghton Mifflin
- 1971 The Search Murray/Thomas Scholastic
- 1974 Burning Star - Author: Eth Clifford / Houghton Mifflin
- 1979 A Wrinkle In Time-Madeleine L'Engle
- 1985 The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales - Author: Virginia Hamilton / Knopf
- 1988 Sing A Song of Popcorn de Regniers Scholastic
- 1989 Moses’ Ark Bach/Exum Delacourte
- 1991 Miriam’s Well - Authors: Alice Bach, J Cheryl Exum / Delacourte Press
- 1992 Many Thousand Gone - Author: Virginia Hamilton / Knopf
- 1993 It's Kwaanza Time Goss Putnam
- 1995 Her Stories - Author: Virginia Hamilton / Scholastic/Blue Sky Press
- 1997 The Girl Who Dreamed Only Geese - Author: Howard A. Norman / Harcourt Brace & Co
- 2000 20,000 League Under the sea - Author: Jules Verne / HarperCollins
- 2001 Mansa Musa - Author: Khephra Burns / Harcourt Brace & Co
- 2004 Between Heaven and Earth: Bird Tales From Around The World - Author: Howard A. Norman / Harcourt Brace & Co
NEW YORK -- Leo Dillon, the groundbreaking illustrator who collaborated with his wife, Diane, on dozens of books for kids and adults and became the first African-American to win the Caldecott Medal for children's books, has died. He was 79.
Dillon died May 26 at Long Island College Hospital from complications after lung surgery, publisher Scholastic Inc. announced Wednesday. Harlan Ellison, a close friend, wrote on his website that "Half my soul for 50 years went with him."
Leo and Diane Dillon met at the Parsons School of Design in 1953 and married four years later. An interracial couple, they worked on a wide range of children's projects, mastering a bold, colorful style that helped introduce kids to stories of black people worldwide. They won the Caldecott for best illustration in 1976 for "Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears: A West African Folktale" and again won Caldecott the following year for "Ashanti to Zulu: African Traditions."
The Dillons received awards as diverse as their books, including a Hugo Award for science fiction illustration and an NAACP Image Award.
"People often comment on the 'Dillon style,'" Leo Dillon said in 2000 during an interview with Locus Magazine. "I think that someplace, the two of us made a pact with each other. We both decided that we would give up the essence of ourselves, that part that made the art each of us did our own. And I think that in doing that we opened the door to everything."
Their credits included more than 40 books, from cover designs for Ellison, Ray Bradbury and other science fiction and fantasy writers to illustrations for books by Margaret Wise Brown, Madeleine L'Engle and Verna Aardema, author of the two Caldecott winners.
They wrote and illustrated the picture books "Rap a Tap Tap" and "Jazz on a Saturday Night" and collaborated with their son Lee Dillon on "Pish, Posh, Said Hieronymus Bosch." A new work by Leo and Diane Dillon, "If Kids Ran the World," is scheduled for 2014.