By AUDREY FISCHER
This year’s National Book Festival poster illustrator, Charles Santore, said he approached the project “with great trepidation.”
Faced with the prospect of filling up the space in front of the U.S. Capitol, representing the National Mall where the festival is held, he came to several conclusions.
“I knew it had to be big, exciting and national,” he began. “I knew it had to have books, but books alone looked like tombstones. They needed to open up and characters had to emerge.”
He began with “Alice in Wonderland,” which he always wanted to illustrate. Then he moved on to another personal favorite, “Moby Dick.” He thought that books on natural history might feature extinct and endangered species like dinosaurs and polar bears. He added literary lion William Shakespeare, pictured composing “Hamlet,” with the king and queen looking over his shoulder.
Then the illustrator determined that the poster needed to have sound. So he included a book about jazz, featuring a trumpet-playing Louis Armstrong. Finally, he decided the depiction of the National Book Festival needed spectators, so he included one little girl and one little boy.
“I thought it worked out pretty well,” he concluded.