November 30, 2021
An album is a book containing above all images or icons.
It is a support of artistic expression in its own right "on which are inscribed, in interaction, images and text" within a support.
Most of the published albums mostly belong to the field of children's and children's literature.
The term takes its origins from the Latin expression used in antiquity "space covered with plaster where one inscribed what one wanted to bring to the knowledge of the public" and, in the romantic era, from the album amicorum: "small white traveler's notebook intended to receive autographs or sentences"
In France, the first collections of albums for young people appeared at the end of the 19th century (Trim collection at Hachette and collection of Albums Stahl at Hetzel).
Maurice Boutet de Monvel, Nathalie Parain, Jean de Brunhoff, Tomi Ungerer, Philippe Corentin, Grégoire Solotareff, Claude Ponti, Anne Herbauts, Olivier Douzou are some of the French author-illustrators who have contributed to its influence.
In English, the album takes the term "picturebook". Randolph Caldecott, Walter Crane and Kate Greenaway, at the end of the 19th century, in London, gave all its artistic dimension to this medium of expression.
Maurice Sendak is considered the greatest and most important album creator, in particular thanks to his masterpiece Where the wild things are (1963), translated into French by Robert Delpire in 1967, Max et les Maximonstres .
The album is made up of images and texts. Sometimes it's the same person who's the author-illustrator, sometimes it's two people who worked together to make an album.
A literature for children and young people
It is often the first literary and artistic object to which children have access from an early age.
More than one child develops pleasure in reading this kind of book, which leads him to explore different themes, artistic sensibilities or imaginary worlds.
More than a genre, the children's literature album is a form of expression with its own codes. Inscribed in a specific format, the image-text interaction is constitutive of an always singular narration.
Childhood and youth literature
Editions for children's and youth's literature
Notes and references
Virtual exhibition of the B.N.F., article dedicated to the album
Reference site for children's literature: The National Center for Youth Literature, La Joie par les Livres
Article in the Revue Stranae devoted to the English album
Blog of the French album specialist, Sophie Van der Linden Literature portal Publishing portal Childhood and youth literature portal