The other day my daughter picked up a book from my stack of recent Cybils arrivals (I'm a Round1 judge in Fiction Picture Books) and asked me to read it to her. The book was Out of the Blue by Alison Jay. I read her the title and the name of the author, as I usually do, but then I asked: "Do you think we've read any other books illustrated by this author?".
She did not hesitate. "Sure. The book about the boy buying a present for his mommy (A Gift for Mama, by Linda Lodding). And the one about weaving in the sky (The Cloud Spinner by Michael Catchpool)." She added "I can tell because of these cracks in the sand (pointing)."
Sure enough, Alison Jay has a distinctive illustration style that features a muted pattern of cracks in the background of the pictures, as if they were old paintings. This makes Jay's work easy to recognize, even for a four-year-old. But I still thought it was a fun milestone - the first time she was able to call out other books by the same illustrator, without any help from me.