The Illustrations of Leo and Diane Dillon

Let’s learn about Leo and Diane Dillon. They married straight after attending Parsons School of Design in NY, and collaborated on children’s book illustrations ever since. In 1997 they celebrated their 40th anniversary, and their 40th collaboratively illustrated book, To Everything There is a Season.


The pair won two consecutive Caldecott medals for their artwork in Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears: A West African Tale, 1975, and Ashanti to Zulu: African Traditions, 1976.



ashanti to Zulu

Their work celebrates their diverse backgrounds and belief that, Art in its many forms has survived to inform us of lives long gone. Art inspires, lifts our spirits, and brings beauty to our lives. We wish to pay homage to it and the people who created it. From the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature.

Just by looking at the covers of the 3 books above, you can see the different styles they employed in their work. The first is spiritual and flowing, the second is graphic, while the third is rich in warm colors and African culture.

A quick look at some of their other book covers shows even more styles, from the calm cover of Two Little Trains, written by Margaret Wise Brown,


to the flat, cut-out style of Rap A Tap Tap, a book they also wrote.


While I see the similarities in the color palette, and subtly in the style, the range of work they put out is phenomenally diverse. I wasn’t really familiar with their art before writing this post, so it’s been a pleasure to learn about them and their amazing career(s). Leo Dillon passed away last week at the age of 79. I learned about him just today because of this.

I can’t wait to check out the actual books with my kids, to expose them to the extraordinary talents of these two people who merged their skills into so many beautifully shared pieces. Their latest book, If Kids Ran the World is scheduled for release in 2014.

(Click on any image to see the book more closely on Amazon.)

What do you think?

Written by Joanne Gonzales

Joanne Gonzales has a passion for getting creative. Whether she is making personalized DIY gifts or taking part in larger arts and crafts projects, she puts her all into making new and beautiful things.

She lives with a group of close friends and believes in the natural way of life. Joanne has built an outdoor arts and crafts gallery that overlooks the countryside in her hometown, which is where all of her creations come to life.

Art started off as a hobby, but over time Joanne has mastered her skills and sold some of her favorite pieces. She works full time as a florist and has done for many years. It helps keep her creative juices flowing and she hopes to one day open her own florist shop with a twist.


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  1. I would never have guessed that it was same illustration team with such different styles. That is hard to pull off, don’t you think? It seems much easier to have a signature look.

  2. It’s interesting, too because in Art education you’re always told to keep your style the same. Now I’m curious to see which other illustrators vary their styles.

  3. I have seen most of those books but wasn’t aware of this illustration team. I guess you more easily remember illustrators with more consistent styles. Always curious how it works with 2 people, like who does what…

    There is another team Alice and Martin Provensen who illustrated Color Kittens and a bunch of others. Their style is more diverse too and I am just aware of them because I saw an exhibit of their work at the Eric Carle Picture Book Museum. If you are ever in MA you have to visit.

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