FMP-Calef Brown


This is an illustration by Calef Brown from his book Greece Rome Monsters for Getty Publications, a children’s book aimed at entertaining and educating children about monsters of ancient Greece and Rome. This particular illustration is of a Phoenix. It is meant to be seen by children and so you can clearly see the Phoenix being simply presented so children can see what a phoenix looks like. The creature is not exactly stereotypical of it’s kind in that it is blue and patterned, whilst most phoenixes are seen as warmer colours with fire coming off them, whilst this is a more unique spin. I think the Phoenix maybe blue to contrast more with it’s background, making the image easier on the eyes and also making it easier for children to see. 

The image is perfect for it’s audience in that is used quite clear geometric shapes to make up the creature, which make it eye-catching, which is good as it makes the child want to read it and learn more. Brown has created books for children, inspiring them to draw by making things from simple geometric shapes. The colours are also quite primary as they are bright but overall not too bright as to be distasteful to any adults buying this book for their children as colours that are too bright may put them off.

Post-modern folk art. That’s how some people describe the illustration style of Calef Brown. Kids might just say that his drawings (and poems) are fun, and funny. And full of surprises that make you want to keep looking at them. Brown has a mischievous sense of humor: in most of his books, his “author photo” on the back flap is a whimsical illustration of an unusual blue chap with an elephant’s trunk for a nose. Sometimes when he shows up for a school visit, kids are surprised to see that Brown isn’t blue at all!


It seems that children do respond very well the Brown’s art, he often visits schools and works with children regularly, he understands a child’s sense of humour, yet he also makes his work entertaining for children as his work is accompanied by poems, although Brown calls them short stories. His poems are do not following traditional rhyme patterns and rhyme with a thudding end so it gives and unexpected ending. (

From this image we can take away that this creature is a bird associated and immune to fire as it burns all around it, children will be drawn in by the image and then want to know more about the creature and read more about it, thus educating themselves. 

I think the piece is successful at showing what a phoenix looks like and it’s association with fire, however I think it struggles to get across other aspects of the Phoenix, including how a Phoenix can die and be reborn from it’s ashes, perhaps if you look hard enough it could be seen, but as children are more likely to look at the picture than read the text associated with the picture, maybe this is something that could have been included? 


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