Isabel Pin


Isabel Pin proves that one can use powerfully expressive art even for really young children when one just knows how to do it.

Thomas Linden, Eselsohr, on Die Geschichte vom kleinen Loch

A simple, short story, expressively designed, which can be looked at and read aloud again and again. Two- and three-year-olds love repetition. With bated breath, they follow the story until the mystery is solved and are delighted that they knew the answer all along. The opening which is the “crater”, cut through each of the cardboard pages, appears robust enough to stand the test of time with children of this age group. The story of the little hole has got what it takes to be the favourite book with pride of place on the bookshelf.

Karl-Heinz Behr, Großes Rätsel um ein kleines Loch (Die Zeit, 30. Oktober 2008)

The thirty-three-year-old is no newcomer to German readers; her picture book Ein Regentag im Zoo is sure to have helped bridge many a rainy day in the children’s room. Now she draws us a ʽholeʼ, and we will keep referring to it as that for the sake of simplicity, not wanting to appear smarter than the clever author and her faithful publishers. (....) What beautiful pictures Isabel Pin comes up with!

Andreas Platthaus, Der große Durchblick (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 31. Januar 2009)

Whoever goes looking for a children’s book is often faced only with the choice between gaudy, moronic cuteness on one hand, or neo-alternative contemplativeness on the other. With Isabel Pin’s children’s books it is possible to get away from both of them. (…) She paints neither in a realistic or absurd manner in order to pander to the allegedly surreal nature of children. There is a core to the picture around which remains a lot of space in which a few, small details may attract attention. In these details one finds grace and delicacy. (…) Ein Regentag im Zoo is a cardboard book with flaps to lift: one is able to guess from the shape of the building which animal is in which house, and then open the flap around the building’s outline to see if one has guessed correctly.

Fabian Kettner, Jenseits von Buntplüsch und alternativem Pseudorealismus. Über Isabel Pins schöne KinderBooks (, März 2007)

Pin’s idea to give each animal its precisely accurate domicile is as old an idea as the invention of the violin case, yet the Berlin-based artist makes it appear original and inspiring, something that only a few achieve on the largely trashy market of cardboard and lift-a-flap books. (…) It is the beautiful, sensitively compiled colours of each and every picture, and the exciting tension between the various painting techniques that Isabel Pin uses that make Ein Regentag im Zoo a unique and interesting book, and not just for animal lovers.

Thomas David, Glück zwischen Papp & Klapp. Die Jury von ZEIT und Radio Bremen stellt vor: Isabel Pins Bilderbuch „Ein Regentag im Zoo“ (Die Zeit, 12. April 2006)

It is cute chaos in this family, poignantly painted with an eye for detail and a confident handling of large, empty spaces such as that which one knows from de Chirico’s work. (…) And if you look really closely, you’ll find Pop Art in the Batman figures and traces of David Hockney in a flower vase and crayons. All this appears to be casually staged.

Freddy Langer, O mein Gott, Tom!!! (zu Als alle früher nach Hause kamen, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 6. Januar 2007

Als alle früher nach Hause kamen is art in the deeper sense of the word. The literary device of the simple narration in the first person is convincing, consistently told from Tom’s point of view. The restrained design of the illustrations affords space in the truest sense of the word, most kindergartens and families only dreaming of huge rooms and spaces like the ones presented here. Isabel Pin practises reducing art to its essential so that the result is a multi-layered story about how adults deal with children.

Matita C. Leng, Isabel Pin: Als alle früher nach Hause kamen (, Februar 2007)

Du Gruselgorilla! encourages a creative way of dealing with strong emotions and shows how they can be expressed through language in a funny and playful way. Swearing is important, as ʽgoing ape is good for improving one’s mood!ʼ However, this isn’t just a dictionary of swear words, but - seen from the other side, quite literally – it is also a dictionary of words of love: turn the book around and the ʽscary gorillaʼ becomes a ʽcaring gorillaʼ.

Lou Heer, Du Gruselgorilla! – Du Schmusegorilla! (Schweizerisches Institut für Kinder- und Jugendmedien)

Short and good, the book is great fun for young and old alike, perfect for looking at together as much as it is for raging or raving over alone. What’s more, without a wagging finger of admonishment from an educational perspective, it is entirely non-judgemental and extremely useful. One of life’s lessons need not always be learned from reading a picture book, although courting someone’s affections and swearing should indeed be learned. However, for those who are unable to completely disregard the educational superstructure, juggling with language has never harmed anyone – on the contrary!

Beate Mainka, Verbalunterstützung für Liebende und Wutentbrannte (zu Du Gruselgorilla! – Du Schmusegorilla!, Titel - Kulturmagazin, 11. März 2010)

It is incredible what a collateral effect is generated by these pictures and eccentric stories. It is wonderful to see how this book quickly turns into a treasure which can always be rediscovered. Whoever wants to experience this should without fail get a copy of this work by Heinz Janisch and Isabel Pin.

Stefan Erlemann: Eine Wolke in meinem Bett (, 2007)

Whoever plays along with Isabel Pin’s metamorphic world of images will discover on the last double page, in between the houses, streets and cars, a tree, a swing and two children – and then, extremely fine-lined figures who the girl has brought into the story while the moon has moved on. Without a doubt, poetic stories sometimes grow on trees and above all in picture books.

Elisabeth Hohmeister, Was machen Fische in der Nacht? Ein wundersames Bilderbuch stellt Fragen an die Fantasie (zu Eine Wolke in meinem Bett, Die Zeit, 22. November 2007)

With consistent conciseness, Isabel Pin stages this fantastic story as a journey for the eyes. (…) In her interpretation of the story, a child brings life to things. Isabel Pin draws on the power of imagination which, in the moment of apparent standstill, perhaps even of boredom, begins to work its magic. This is a book which will become a companion.

Bitte, schau mich an! ruft das Buch. Die Jury von ZEIT und Radio Bremen stellt vor: Antonie Schneider/Isabel Pin „Kleiner König, wer bist du?“ (Die Zeit, 04. November 2004).

In Das Karussell (...) the hinted forms of horses, lions and white elephants actually gain momentum as you turn the pages, and you really feel the wind as the carrousel turns.

Angelika Ohland, Alles ist gut! Neue BilderBooks (taz Magazin, 14. Juni 2008)

Rilke’s poetry is of a tender, haunting beauty and carries off the reader into the world of childhood, into the world of imagination, into the land that hesitates for a long time before it is lost. Isabel Pin has succeeded in transposing all this into the pictures she has created, her illustrations unfolding a charm all of their own.

Sabine Seip, Poesie für Kinder: Das Karussell (, 2008)

The fascination with the travel experiences of the fruit results (...) to a large extent also from the artistic transposition of the verses by Isabel Pin. (...) It is as if, in the absurdity of Antonie Schneider’s verses, Isabelle Pin has found a new freedom which has liberated compositional vigour and forced back confinement to detail.

Jens Thiele, Melone mit Krone. Visuelle Poesie von Antonie Schneider und Isabel Pin (Die Zeit, DIE ZEIT, 13. März 2008)

In modern children’s literature, the genre of ABC books has become a playing field for inventive writers and no less innovative illustrators. Jürg Schubiger and Isabel Pin place themselves within this line of tradition with Zebra, Zecke, Zauberwort. And they do it fabulously. On the one hand, there are Jürg Schubiger’s couplets – one for each letter – which claim the bottom quarter of each page for themselves. On the other hand, there are Isabel Pin’s illustrations which fill out the rest of the double page and accomplish the artistic feat of bringing together verse couplets which have nothing to do with each other.

Christine Tresch, Zebra, Zecke, Zauberwort (Schweizerisches Institut für Kinder- und Jugendmedien)

Isabel Pin has created a wonderfully simple book about the very special yet everyday father-son relationship, where what counts first and foremost is being together.

Stefanie Eckmann-Schmechta, Wenn mein Papa weg ist (, 2007)

Starford and Ahsin on Der Kern

Two young video bloggers from New Zealand review the book.