Blogger Panel: Illustrations in YA Books?

It’s time for another Blogger Panel! Today’s bloggers are:

Stormy from Book.Blog.Bake

Shelly from Shelly’s Rambles

Tanja from Ja citam, a ti?

Sana from Artsy Musings of a Bibliophile

Thank you so much for joining me, ladies! The question, asked by Asti from A Bookish Heart, is…

How do you feel about YA books with illustrations? Does it make you want to read the book or is it too childish?

Stormy says…

StormyOn the whole, my feelings about illustrations are similar to my feelings on other media in books: Does it serve a purpose? It is used to convey part of the story or push the story forward? I’m neutral to the idea of illustration in YA books in general, but if a book DOES have illustrations, I want the answer to those questions to be a “Yes”. I don’t like books with illustrations(or other mixed media) if it’s only in the book to just BE there and be different. When done correctly, though, I think illustrations can add a great deal of depth to a story!

I also think illustrations can do a great deal for books considering the way we usually consume media today. Think about it–almost every medium today combines different elements like say, pictures and words. We’re so internet-driven, which means we watch YouTube videos with pop-up text boxes, tweet along in real time as we watch TV shows, and combine design elements for things as simple as blog posts. Thinking about YA with illustrations that way, putting it in context of the way we generally consume and transfer information today, makes me a bit hopeful(and excited) for the future of media such as illustrations in YA. I just hope it’s done well and contributes to the story.

And as a disclaimer, I can’t say I have much experience with illustrations in YA–the only book I’ve read that fits that description is A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, which is one of my all-time favorite books. The illustrations in that book were so spot-on, so judging on that alone, I’d have to say I lean more towards the “I’m a fan!” of illustrations in YA category.

Shelly says…
Shelly Great question, Asti! I’ve never really thought about that! For me, illustrations add on to the appeal of a book. If I’m reading a fantasy book and the first couple pages have a map, I only want to read further. BUT, it also depends on the type of book. If I ever saw a dystopia book with illustrations, I’d think it was too childish. I think that illustrations all depend on the genre and the type of book it is. When used correctly, illustrations can be an awesome but when used incorrectly, illustrations can harm the overall mood. Like I mentioned before, illustrations all depend on the genre and the type of book.
Tanja says…
TanjaMeg darling, you really had me thinking about this one. I even made a list of pro and cons, not to mention that I switched sides too.
After I first read the question I was all yes, sure – who can resist beautiful illustrations, I’m still a big kid in my heart after all (Heck I even get excited with nice font and little artwork). But not everything is black and white.
While they for sure add to the prettiness of the book and nicely decorate the pages there is that other side – imagination. If not the main reason why I love reading books is that they truly feed my imagination. The best stories for me are those that I can paint in my head MYSELF. There is that freedom left to all readers to imagine and create worlds themselves. That’s why books will always come before movies for me.
But also it’s not impossible that the illustrations can be done properly and add to the value of the book.
So I shall go with diplomatic answer here: It fully depends on the book and illustrations. It sure depends on the person as well. At the end of the day we’re all different.
For me I’ll rather create my little worlds in my head and keep them there. Safe and sound.

Sana says…

artsy musingsThe type of illustrations I’ve come across most in the YA books I’ve read are maps. I love maps as they tend to give a real feeling to the story. I was recently browsing through the map of Erilea in Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas and I thought that there should be more books with maps. My love for maps really began with the Marauder’s Map which is the only kind of map I’d love to own (and would’ve to live in Hogwarts because of it). As for illustrations in general, I feel okay about them. I don’t think it’s childish at all. MG books are best for illustrations but it’s good to see YA branch out its wings and dabble in illustrations every now and then.

What do YOU think?

What do you think of illustrations in YA books? Do they only serve to distract you from the story? Or do they help to add depth to the story? Do  you think there should be more illustrations in YA books? Leave your thoughts below!

What is the Blogger Panel?

The Blogger Panel is to provide help and a little bit of an “insider’s scoop” into what bloggers/reviewers think about certain things in a book, OR anything book/blog related. I’m also accepting questions from YOU! The questions can be about anything – books, authors, book blogs (advice, etc.) – just as long as it is book related. Please remember, this isn’t an interview with bloggers, so do refrain from asking simple questions you’d ask in an interview.

If you want to join the next Blogger Panel, but don’t want to submit a question, select “Yes” in the form and leave the “Question” area blank. I’ll be looking for up to four people for the next panel. If you’re accepted, look out for my email and the question!




19 thoughts on “Blogger Panel: Illustrations in YA Books?

  1. I have to agree with all the points raised by the four awesome ladies. Previously, I really don’t care if a YA book has illustrations or not. As long as it gives me an emotional rollercoaster ride then I am good to go. However, I started appreciating them when I first read Harry Potter. Well, it actually started as an MG book (years 11-13) but even after it became YA, it still contained those mini-illustrations. And I really love looking at them. I even forced my artistic sister to draw all of them in pencil so I can post them on my bedroom wall.

    On a personal note, I think illustrations would work for all YA books. As long as the artist can manage to draw them to reflect the tone of the book then I don’t think it would be childish. If we’re talking about THG here, I think the author should draw the characters in a more badass way. But if a book is like HP, then the artist should settle for quirky and fun illustrations. I guess it all depend upon the talents of our artists.

    Also, I am a visual learner. I can easily remember moments, events, faces and names when I see them being illustrated. And it would be really helpful if there are illustrations about all the characters. At least I don’t have to exhaust my mind thinking about what they should look like.

    Awesome feature! <3333 *throws confetti and balloons*

  2. Hmm I think illustrations make the book prettier. I usually like the kinds that still leave space for readers’ imaginations. I mean, I like to imagine the characters on my own so I guess I can’t really do that if there’s an illustration of the MC, can I? But illustrations do work for some books, plus they’re definitely a big help when it comes to high fantasy novels 😀

    Agree with Sana! I personally like maps the best. Maps are just sooo cool!! Especially the one in Shadow and Bone 😉 When I opened the page for first time I was literally in awe hehe, even though I don’t know how to pronounce those Russian words xD I think maps can add something to the book, they can strengthen the world building and help some readers to imagine the locations well.

  3. Illustrations as in maps: THEY ARE THE BEST. I LOVE it when authors take the time to develop their worlds. It makes it even easier to connect with the story. I also love it when there are illustrations at the top and bottom of the page, or pretty drawings around the ‘Chapters’ I agree with most of them: if the illustrations serve a part in the story, I love them. If they are only there to be there.. it’s pretty, but not necessarily.

    • I really need to re-read my comments before I post them.. I often write sentences and then I delete them, but some parts are still there and are incorporated into strange sentences, haha. What I want to say is:

      “I LOVE it when authors take the time to reveal how their worlds look like.”

  4. Yeah if it serves a purpose or if it’s like.. a letter and they print it in actual letter form which I’ve seen I think it’s kind of cool. But illustrations like you’d see in MG novels would be kind of odd to me and I don’t see why it would be needed at all. I do like those books with creepy pictures though like Miss Peregrine. And a map of the world in fantasies is also cool. Great post! 🙂

  5. I love illustrations in books! Unfortunately, I have read many books with many illustrations, unless I count the ones that have drawings around the chapter titles. But when I read books with illustrations, I always have a special love for them. Art makes a book so much more fun and lovely to me 🙂

  6. Hmm. Depends on if it fits into the story. The book BETWEEN THE LINES by Jodi Picoult had great illustrations; it went with the fairy-tale kind of theme. I don’t think illustrations make the book childish, though.
    Schematics are really cool in books, spy-themed books especially! 😉 Great question; I love this type of post!

  7. Once again, my writing is short and sweet. I should have totally mentioned maps, grrr, this is what happens when I submit things too early! Props to the other bloggers for writing better responses than me. Awesome post and I can’t wait to see who will be in the next panel! 🙂

  8. I actually love it when YA books have illustrations. If it’s small (like it’s part of the chapter heading), then that’s okay. I always enjoy those because they are just so cute. They don’t distract me from the story because they’re just at the start of the chapter. However, if the illustration takes up an entire page, then that’s okay too but only if it serves a purpose (like everything Stormy said). I hate it when it adds nothing because I feel like the publisher or whoever is just trying to fill up the pages. They aren’t letting the work speak for itself.

    I definitely want more books like A Monster Calls or Why We Broke Up. The illustrations added to my emotional state. Lol.

  9. I’m in favor of the illustration, but just the little ones like in Amy and Roger’s epic detour. It makes me want to buy that book so bad, so great for marketing and sales. But also, I love how connected it makes me feel to the story. Even if a book I’m reading is okay but has interesting illustrations or drawing or even maps, I sure as hell am going to remember that book for a long time. Like Tanja said, I’m still a kid at heart and I enjoy seeing all these different drawing. Now graphic novels are completely different, they feel cartoony to me and I’m not really into that.

  10. Ohh yay, thanks for using my question! I think I agree with all of them in one way or another. It shouldn’t be added just for effect, but actually be meaningful and true to the story. The only thing that doesn’t bother me that sometimes bothers others is the whole ruining the imagination for the reader. I don’t really visualize characters when I read, so having the illustrated for me is quite helpful. Otherwise they’re just sort of… blank. I don’t know why that is and why I can’t imagine characters like everyone else. Really, someday I’ll write a post about it because I find it so odd. Oh, and maps ftw. 😉

  11. In all that I’ve forgot the maps. I love them though. Anyhow I think we all can agree tht it mostly depends if it serves the purpose and the way it’s done. Sometimes it can bring reading to a totally new level and sometimes it can ruin the travel. So yeah. Anyhow great question Asti 🙂

  12. Wow! Heated debates! 😀
    I think all the points above are very valid. Illustrations should serve a purpose in aiding the progression of the story. It’s also nice to have some visual images to stimulate our imaginations at times! And definitely, maps are very useful to give readers a clearer context of the setting, especially if it’s a fantasy world! 🙂
    Fantastic points made, all of you!

  13. Yes, yes and yes. They combine two of my favourite things in one, and I can oggle at the beauty of illustrations and the actual words a the same time. I don’t even think I would mind if they were added without purpose. And MAAAHHPS!! I love them, and will soon start studying them closely to make my own.

    Hmm, should be fun! 😀

  14. YES! I love illustrations, they are an art form and I certainly don’t consider them childish. They add a quirky factor plus they can give you a fresh insight into the book as long as they are done right. A picture paints a thousand words and something like a map can just illustrate a point so much clearer than pages of writing. Plus it’s fun pouring over them and taking all the detail in.

  15. I agree with Sana. I’ve only ever really come across maps as illustrations in YA Books. Although, I’ve heard Asylum has cool illustrations. And I love a good map. They help fantasy books. Actually, now that I think about it, Harry Potter has little illustrations as chapter headings. I think it works well because we got to see what Dobby looks like because of those. So yes, illustrations are a plus! I probably wouldn’t like them littered in the book bc then it would seem MG like a couple of the bloggers mentioned.

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