''Talking with artists'' -- We talk with some of the children's-book illustrators profiled in the new book

As a boy in Philadelphia, Jerry Pinkney would sketch while he ran his own newspaper stand. Lane Smith says his future as an artist was sealed when his ”fourth-grade math test came back with a big D on it.” Now, Pinkney (Mirandy and Brother Wind) and Smith (who did the illustration on the opposite page) are among 14 children’s-book stars profiled in Talking with Artists, compiled and edited by fellow illustrator Pat Cummings (Clean Up Your Room, Harvey Moon!).

”Kids have very specific questions,” says Cummings, who often travels to schools and libraries to speak about her work.”’How did you do that?’ ‘Who was this in the picture?”’ With Talking, Cummings aims to provide answers to the most common inquiries. By offering helpful tips and samples of work the illustrators created as youngsters, Cummings, 41, hopes to encourage children to consider a career in art. ”Kids don’t see that this is a job they can have when they grow up,” she says. Young scribblers, take heart: Don’t put those crayons back in the box yet.