I love Loren Long. I thought his illustrations of Madonna's second book, MR. PEABODY'S APPLES, was astonishing (not her story, his illustrations). He does the illustrations for Phil Bildner's BARNSTORMERS series and wowed me last year with TOY BOAT. Now, we have DRUMMER BOY, Philomel, 2008. A steadfast tin soldier (and what a terrific opportunity to intro readers to HC Andersen) is accidentally knocked into a trash can. He reaches the dump where he still plays a gentle rhythm on is drum. His journey is full of adventure; the one constant is his thrummy drumming.
Long shows influences from many contemporary illustrators including (IMHO) Sendak and Van Allsburg. However, his work is not in the least derivative.