The illustrations have been arranged in what one might call a chronological progression in four parts, adding thereto some miscellanea.
First: The children's general impression of war: Plates 1-7.
Second: A series of drawings which picture bombings: Plates 8-23.
Third: A cycle of pictures showing the flight from danger. Trains, trucks, steamers, rowboats, oxcarts, mules or their own feet brought the children to safer places: Plates 24-36.
Fourth: The life of the children, once they are in homes or colonies in Spain or France: Plates 37-49.
Fifth: Heterogeneous subjects: Plates 50-60.
The 60 drawings were selected almost at random, without paying special attention to their artistic value. They are autobiographic pages of unkept diaries. As the Peninsula has given to the world its most original painters, contemporaneous Spanish children's ability for pictorial art is certainly not inferior to that of other countries. A specific ability for perspective cannot be denied. Those who know Spain will quickly find themselves at home when scanning these illustrations, and those who have not been there will intuitively feel that the atmosphere of landscape, rural or urban architecture has been well caught.
As Mr. Huxley points out, the Spanish children are under the enormous handicap of not having proper material with which to work. Even professional painters in Spain at this moment complained to the writer of lack of good paint, canvas, pencils and brushes. The children generally have to use small bits of inferior paper, whereas experience shows that a child's talents have free scope only when adequate space is allowed, hence the superiority of children's murals over their drawings. Empty stomachs, frostbitten fingers are other handicaps.
The captions are often as obvious, but perhaps as useful, as explanatory notes below reproductions of paintings even in many erudite books on art. Without having his attention drawn, for instance to Plate 40, only the most patient observer would notice the gay deviltry of the class of youngsters and appreciate the humor of the drawing. The subtitles in quotation marks give a verbatim rendering of the children's inscriptions, reproducing their awkward, helpless, sometimes stilted verbal expressions. Their drawings are more eloquent than their words, better than their syntax.
One of this country's great child psychiatrists noted that these drawings lack the morbidity often observed in children's drawings of great American cities. He also observes that there are few drawings of food, so frequently the theme of children who live a normal life. In ordinary times Spanish children too painted sausages and hams. They also painted trains which were not meant for evacuation, and airplanes which carried mail and passengers.
When Spanish children's drawings were first publicly exhibited, questions as to how they were collected were asked so frequently that an anticipated brief answer does not seem out of place. The writer, when in Spain six months ago, asked the Board of Education for some drawings, and within a few days was deluged with hundreds, flowing in from the schools of Madrid. At Valencia the same experience was met. To the authorities at Madrid and Valencia we want to express our thanks for their helpfulness. Also to Miss Margaret Palmer, Representative of the Carnegie Institute in Spain who sent us a great number of drawings from refugee centers for Spanish children in France. And to Bruce Bliven, from whose articles on Spanish children's drawings we have borrowed, with his permission, the title of this volume. In the name of the Spanish children we express our gratitude to Aldous Huxley for his most generous contribution.