Each year, the J. Paul Getty Museum hosts more than 100,000 children on field trips to view the vast art collection at its two locations: the Getty Center atop the Santa Monica Mountains and the Getty Villa in Pacifica Palisades. Add to that those who visit with their families and take part in family-centered events and activities.
The effort to make art interesting and digestible for children extends to Getty Publications, which in recent years has increased its efforts to publish for the youngest readers, said Getty Senior Editor Elizabeth Nicholson.
“The goal is to support understanding and appreciation of art for all audiences — art, archeology, humanities, ancient world,” she said.
Although some books are published to accompany a Getty exhibit, they’re all meant to be readable on their own.
“They’re not meant to be didactic,” Nicholson said. “They’re meant to be fun.”
The books, available through the Getty and also distributed by Abrams, range from picture books to young adult graphic novels. They include two picture books by SCBWI members: author Julie Berry and illustrator Michelle Thies.
Berry is writing the picture book Don’t Let the Beasties Escape This Book! to be published in conjunction with the exhibition, Book of Beasts, a major display of medieval bestiaries — illustrated volumes about beasts real and imagined. It will open in May 2019 at the Getty Center. Berry, has experience with history and research. Her young adult novel, the Printz Honor book The Passion of Dolssa (Viking Children’s Books), is set in the thirteenth century.
Thies, a background artist for the Cartoon Network show Unikitty!, illustrated the picture book Cleo and Cornelius: A Tale of Two Kitties and Two Cities. The book, co-written by Elizabeth Nicholson, Janine Pibal and Nick Geller, was published in conjunction with the exhibit Beyond the Nile: Egypt and the Classical World, currently on view at the Getty Center.
Berry and Thies answered our questions about their books via email. The interviews have been edited for length and clarity.
BRING ON THE BEASTIES
ERLINA VASCONCELLOS: Congratulations on the Don’t Let the Beasties Escape This Book! How did you become involved with this project?