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About Can Göknil’s Children’s Books

Can Göknil (born in Ankara, 1945)

As a graduate of the Fine Arts Department of Knox College (Illinois), Can Göknil received her MA degree from The City College of the City University of New York, School of Fine Arts in 1969. She has exhibited her art nationally and internationally since then. Today her art works are in many important collections such as the Chihiro Museum in Tokyo and Azumino and the National Art Library of Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Can Göknil grew up in the modern urban environment of Ankara in the 50’s. In the absence of children’s publishers, her nanny, an Anatolian peasant, totally different in her upbringing than her parents, entertained her by she her gifted story telling. Her folk tales were sometimes in rhyme, which this Nanny recited in most animated styles. In later life Can Göknil realized that her nanny was a perfect representative of the verbal tradition of folk tales, riddles and rhymes of her cultural heritage. This was her first introduction to myths, all of which she researched thoroughly and drew her inspiration from during her artistic carrier.
“In many of my books the heroes of these ancient tales go through exciteing adventures, true to their traditional characters but allowing space for fantasy,”

Can Göknil has written and illustrated the very first children’s picture book in Turkey: Porcupine Story (Kirpi Masalı, 1974, Redhouse, Istanbul) In 2013 Porcupine Story was published by Can Çocuk with new illustrations in 2013. With more than fifty titles published nationally and internationally, with many awards and nominations such as the Andersen Prize for 2010, here is how she describes her art for children:

“Acquainting children with art and literature at an early age, enables them to develope up their capacity for multiple interpretations so that they can see things in more ways than one. Pictures in a book can increase one’s depth of understanding and have a lifelong influence. Even though my style is simple and direct (because my target age group is 4-8), I’ve always wanted each picture to add a new dimension to the page or to the book itself. I use watercolors because of the purity and spontaneity of the technique.I think that through art children can find joy and humour in life and get a push in the right direction to grow up as self confident and caring individuals with respect to others and to the environment.”

The artist works and lives in Istanbul with her husband and son.