In this article, an attempt is made to present a critical overview of the creative work of selected illustrators of South African children's books that have been published locally since 1950. The essence of the article lies in the critical discussion of the artistic styles and techniques, as well as mediums, used by illustrators to execute the art works. The analysis of the illustrations has been undertaken according to generally recognised art styles and conventions: realism (including romantic realism and super-realism), naiveté, caricaturisation, as well as stylising with expressive elements and decorative African elements.
Although any critique of an artist's work remains a subjective issue, care has been taken to interview selected artists where there was doubt concerning the style intended. In all instances, a selection of publications illustrated by the mentioned illustrators is presented, with titles in English or Afrikaans, depending on the language of the original publication, although, in some cases, only one of the two was available.
The article concludes with some comments on general and specific themes found in South African children's books as genre, such as multiculturalism and related social issues, Africa's wildlife, unique geographical spaces and indigenous folk tales.