January 15 – It’s International Creativity Month

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-book-of-mistakes-cover

About the Holiday

Do you value craft store coupons more than the ones from the grocery store? When you look at math formulas, do you see brand new applications? Can you make a gourmet meal out of three leftover ingredients? If you think outside the box then you have a bright future! Whether you work in a traditionally creative field or not, the ability to think differently is a valuable asset.  This month explore your creative side and share your ideas! 

The Book of Mistakes

By Corinna Luyken

 

The whole thing started while drawing a picture. The head of the child looks good—nice little ear and nose, a dot for the left eye. The hair goes on pretty well—a swoop on the right side, straight on the left. The eyebrows are tiny dashes, and the mouth the size of a chocolate sprinkle. Just have to add the right eye…Oh, no! The right eye is too big!! Okay, okay, this mistake can be fixed. The left eye just needs to be a liiittle bigger…Oh, good grief! “Making the other eye even bigger was another mistake.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-book-of-mistakes-splotch-on-head

Copyright Corinna Luyken, 2017, courtesy of Dial Books for Young Readers.

Maybe…the perspective might just be right for…Yes! “the glasses—they were a good idea.” Okay on to the body. Hmmm… “The elbows and the extra-long neck? Mistakes. But the collar—ruffled, with patterns of lace and stripes—that was a good idea.” And elbow patches make the arms look a little less pointy.

Moving on to the background, a thick and leafy bush is just the thing to hide the animal. Animals? It could be a cat, a cow, or a frog. “Another mistake.” And why is the ground so far below the girl’s feet anyway? Oh! Because she’s wearing roller skates. Nice save! “Those were definitely not a mistake.” Let’s see, the “second frog-cat-cow thing made a very nice rock.” Now, what about the other girl with long hair and one very long leg? Got it! She “looks like she always meant to be climbing that tree” on the side of the page.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-book-of-mistakes-leaves

Copyright Corinna Luyken, 2017, courtesy of Dial Books for Young Readers.

The ink smudges at the top of the paper can be leaves, but back to the roller-skating girl. What to do with those awkwardly positioned arms? Oh dear—the pen should not have been hovering over the page. How to fix the splotch on the side of her head? Ah-hah! An old-fashioned aviator’s helmet. Or is it a swimming cap? No matter…she’s now holding a yellow balloon in her left hand and lots of strings in her right. Wow, tons of yellow balloons are at the ends of those strings!

She’s skating toward the tree with the long-legged girl, and there are a bunch of other kids playing in it too. Cool! They’re all wearing aviator helmets/swimming caps too. Some are wearing roller skates—good—and they’re erecting some kind of tent over a big branch. Wow! Look at the pink balloons and the green ones! There’s a kid riding a hot-air unicycle through the sky and a skateboarder is floating down to a ramp supported by springs in the top of the tree. Someone’s even tatting a lace banner.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-book-of-mistakes-tree

Copyright Corinna Luyken, 2017, courtesy of Dial Books for Young Readers.

“Do you see?” They’re all waiting for the roller-skating girl to bring the yellow balloons. But let’s step back a little. “Do you see—how with each mistake she is becoming?” If we back up some more, she and the tree look so tiny and there’s a big, dark forest in the foreground. “Do you see—” Looking from way far away, doesn’t that forest look a bit like curly hair or…Oh! The top of the roller-skating girl’s cap! She’s so big now, and she’s gazing out of those green glasses at the white page where she’s drawing a small head with a nice little ear and nose and a dot for the left eye. “Do you see—who she could be?”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-book-of-mistakes-girl-as-artist

Copyright Corinna Luyken, 2017, courtesy of Dial Books for Young Readers.

Kids will be charmed by the start of the little head on the first page, begin giggling at the one too-big eye on the third page, and laugh out loud at the even bigger eye on the fifth in Corinna Luyken’s magically inventive The Book of Mistakes. As each mistake is adjusted for or inspires a new twist in the story, young readers will appreciate how creatively right the fix is and look forward to the next mistake and the next. The final pages presenting the tree full of children are so enticing that readers will want to linger over each one to find all the details. Luyken’s minimally colored drawings are funny and endearing and lead readers to question their own perspective and give free reign to their imagination.

The Book of Mistakes is a must for classrooms and highly recommended for home libraries for all those times when mistakes can be perfect conversation starters or the inspiration for…anything!

Ages 4 – 8 and up

Dial Books for Young Readers, 2017 | ISBN 978-0735227927

To find a portfolio of artwork and more information about Corinna Luyken and her books visit her website.

International Creativity Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-magnetic-can-craft (2)Creativity is Magnetic! Fun Cantainer

 

A can with a lid can make a creative kit if you fill it with magnetic pieces that can be used to make scenes, faces, or even poems. Make the magnets yourself and you can create a kit that is uniquely yours! Make a kit to put in the car too!

Supplies

  1. Can with a lid, available at craft stores or with various types of tea
  2. Small craft magnets and/or magnetic strips
  3. A variety of small items such as:
  • Foam or felt shapes
  • Scrap booking stickers 
  • Googly eyes in various sizes
  • Felt or heavy paper
  • Small charms
  • Small toys

Directions

To Make Scenes

  1. Attach magnets to shapes, stickers, or small items
  2. Arrange them into a scene or design on the side of the can

To Make Faces

  1. Attach magnets to googly eyes
  2. Make noses and mouths out of the felt or heavy paper
  3. Attach magnets to facial features

To Make Poems 

  1. Use Magnetic Sheets, leaving the white paper on
  2. Write words on the white paper
  3. Cut out words
  4. Arrange them into a poem on the side of the can

Store your magnetic pieces inside the can

Picture Book Review

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finding a pearl in an oyster is a lucky thing! Here are two oysters brimming with shiny pearls. Grab your crayons, markers, or pencils—maybe even some glitter—and have fun with this printable Secret Pearls Coloring Page!

Picture Book Review

November 11 – Origami Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-more-igami-cover

About the Holiday

The art of paper folding known as Origami is enjoyed around the world and has it’s roots in paper craft traditions of Europe, China, and Japan. Once primarily used at ceremonies and special events, origami is now enjoyed by people of all ages around the globe. World Origami Days are held from October 24—which commemorates the birthday of Lillian Oppenheimer, the founder of the first American origami group and instrumental in the founding of the British Origami Society and Origami USA—to November 11, which is Origami Day in Japan. To celebrate today’s holiday create some origami figures of your own. Visit OrigamiUSA for more information and lots of templates to download and follow.

More-igami

Written by Dori Kleber | Illustrated by G. Brian Karas

 

Joey was a little boy with a particular fascination. He was captivated by all things folded. At home he had a collection of “old road maps,” the bellows on an accordion made it his favorite instrument, and he even tucked himself into a foldaway bed at night. One day Joey witnessed the most amazing thing at school. Sarah Takimoto’s mother came to his class, and—right before the students’ eyes—folded, flipped, and pulled a plain white piece of paper “until it became…a crane.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-more-igami-mrs-takimoto

Image copyright G. Brian Karas, text copyright Dori Kleber. Courtesy of Candlewick Press

“Joey’s eyes popped. His jaw dropped. Mrs. Takimoto called it origami.” Joey was smitten. “‘I want to make origami,’” Joey told Sarah’s mother. “‘Will you teach me?’” Mrs. Takimoto  answered that while she could teach him the right folds, it would take practice and patience to become an origami master. Joey raced home that afternoon and began folding. When he ran out of notebook paper and construction paper, he used his homework…the newspaper…his sister’s sheet music…gift wrap… even “Aunt Vivian’s pineapple surprise” recipe card. But when he folded up all thirty-eight dollars in his mom’s purse, she put her foot down.

“Joey drooped.” His cranes were still coming out wrinkled and crooked, and he’d never be able to become an origami master without practicing. To soothe his disappointment, he headed next door to Muy Mexicana for some fajitas. Right away Mr. Lopez noticed Joey’s disgruntlement. When Joey explained that everyone was losing patience with him, Mr. Lopez said, “‘Many artists are misunderstood, amigo.’ Especially when they are just learning.’” Mr. Lopez went into the kitchen, and when he came out with the sizzling fajitas, he was delighted to see a napkin pyramid sitting on the table.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-more-igami-folding-sheet-music

Image copyright G. Brian Karas, text copyright Dori Kleber. Courtesy of Candlewick Press

Joey apologized, but Mr. Lopez thought it made the table look fancy. In fact, he liked it so much that he had Joey fold every napkin on every table. After that, Joey went to Muy Mexicana each day following school and folded the napkins into decorative shapes. One day he made fans, the next candlesticks, and the day after that, crowns. He patiently worked until each one was perfect.

Finally, he felt ready to attempt his original challenge. “He took a crisp napkin. He folded. He flipped. He pulled.” When he was finished, a perfect crane sat in front of him. Just then a girl with a paper fan walked in. Her eyes widened as they zeroed in on Joey’s crane. Joey offered to show her how to make it, but warned, “‘It takes practice—and lots of patience!’”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-more-igami-crane

Image copyright G. Brian Karas, text copyright Dori Kleber. Courtesy of Candlewick Press

Dori Kleber’s unique multicultural story of a little boy who finds the perfect creative outlet for his singular interest will captivate kids who are just beginning to try their own hands at favorite hobbies, schoolwork, or other pursuits. With humor and honest depictions of Joey’s frustration and persistence, Kleber shows readers that practice and patience really do pay off. As Joey meets another folding enthusiast, kids will see that there are always others with whom to share favorite pastimes.

Opening More-igami to the first page where Joey sits gazing lovingly at a taco with a folded napkin next to his plate, readers will know they are in for something special. As always, G. Brian Karas’s characters are enthusiastic, encouraging, and adorable. Readers will empathize with Joey as they watch him folding and folding, and giggle at the many, many practice cranes that litter his home, even perching atop his sister’s music stand and appearing in his mom’s purse.

Karas makes full creative use of the origami theme in his clever page designs and illustrations, beginning with the square shape of the book itself and the origami paper-styled endpapers. Vivid, solid-color background pages are divided diagonally, vertically, or horizontally with subtle changes in hue or nearly invisible lines. In depictions of Joey’s school, home, and favorite restaurant, diagonals, angles, and sharp edges predominate: tables and floors create triangles on the page; windows, walls, and doors divide pages into shapes associated with the steps of origami’s folded creations; and floor tiles, the sidewalk, and even Joey’s shirt portray grid lines. The color schemes of each page, inspired by the patterns and shades of origami paper, are dazzling and unite the varied aspects of this special book.

For any child undertaking a new activity or venture, More-igami is a charming and encouraging companion on the way to proficiency—one that would make a wonderful home library and classroom addition.

Ages 4 – 8

Candlewick Press, 2016 | ISBN 978-0763668198

To learn more about Dori Kleber and her writing, visit her website!

G. Brian Karas has a whole gallery of illustrations, books, information, and “what nots” on his website!

Origami Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-origami-penguin-template

Origami Pets

 

Origami is a fun hobby that can grow in complexity as you gain skill. Here are two templates to get you started! All you need is a square piece of paper and—if you’d like to decorate your piece—some markers or colored pencils.

Puppy Template | Penguin Template

Picture Book Review

September 15 – International Dot Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-dot-cover

About the Holiday

Usually, I match books to existing holidays. Today, though, I have the pleasure of posting a review of a book that established a holiday. On September 15, 2009 teacher Terry Shay introduced his class to Peter H. Reynold’s The Dot. From that one event grew a national and then an international celebration of creativity and the freedom to make art with your heart. All around the world, school children and adults are inspired on this day to make their mark and celebrate creativity, courage, and collaboration.

The Dot

By Peter H. Reynolds

 

At the end of art class, Vashti looked at her paper. It was still as blank as it was at the beginning of art class. Her teacher came over and took a peek. She saw right away that Vashti had drawn “‘a polar bear in a snowstorm.’” Vashti wasn’t fooled by the joke. “‘I just CAN’T draw,’” she said. But her teacher had a suggestion. “‘Just make a mark and see where it takes you.’”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-dot-vashti-jabs-paper

Copyright Peter H. Reynolds, 2003, courtesy of Candlewick Press.

Vashti jabbed at the paper with a marker, making a dot right in the center. Her teacher studied her drawing carefully then told Vashti to sign it. That, at least, was something Vashti could do. She signed her name and gave the paper to her teacher. At the next week’s art class, Vashti was stunned to see her dot framed and hanging above the teacher’s desk. She looked at the tiny mark and decided that she could do better than that.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-dot-teacher

Copyright Peter H. Reynolds, 2003, courtesy of Candlewick Press.

Vashti opened her watercolor set and began. She “painted and painted. A red dot. A purple dot. A yellow dot. A blue dot.” Then she discovered that blue mixed with yellow made a green dot. Vashti went to the easel and began painting lots of little dots in all sorts of colors. She realized if she could make little dots, she could make big dots. She knelt down on the floor with a big piece of paper and a big brush and created a huge dot.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-dot-experimenting-with-dots

Copyright Peter H. Reynolds, 2003, courtesy of Candlewick Press.

Then on an enormous canvas Vashti “made a dot by not making a dot.” At the school art show, Vashti’s dot paintings covered two walls and were quite a hit. Coming around the corner a little boy spied Vashti. He came close and told her, “‘You’re a really great artist. I wish I could draw.’” Vashti was encouraging, but the little boy said he couldn’t even “‘draw a straight line with a ruler.’”

Vashti wanted to see. She handed the boy a blank sheet of paper. With a quivering pencil, he drew a line and handed the paper back to her. Vashti studied the wavy line for a minute, and then gave the paper back. “‘Please…sign it,’” she said.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-dot-art-show-II

Copyright Peter H. Reynolds, 2003, courtesy of Candlewick Press.

Peter H. Reynold’s classic story of a little girl who believes she can’t draw is inspirational for anyone at any age who listens too closely to that voice in their head that stops them from letting go and doing. Whether it’s painting, writing, changing the décor of one’s house, updating a wardrobe, getting healthy, or even taking a class, the project often seems insurmountable. But what if you could start with a YouTube video, one step, a pair of earrings, a pillow, a word, or…a dot? Reynolds says you can! With his straightforward storytelling, Reynolds gives readers permission to play, experiment, and feel free.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-dot-little-boy

Copyright Peter H. Reynolds, 2003, courtesy of Candlewick Press.

Reynold’s familiar line drawings that sketch out adorable Vashti and her wise teacher are punctuated by the colorful dots that Vashti draws in profusion. Even Vashti, herself, is surrounded by circular auras of color throughout the story, reflecting her talent and creative spirit. The final scene of the art show gallery is a revelation, showing readers that one’s work or life work adds up to an impressive display of the self.

Through and through The Dot is charming, moving, and encouraging. It is a must addition to home libraries, public libraries, and classrooms.

Ages 5 and up

Candlewick Press, 2003 | 978-0763619619

Discover more about International Dot Day, download an Educator’s Guide, and see a gallery of projects on thedotclub.org.

You’ll learn more about Peter H, Reynolds, his books, and his art as well as find lots of inspiration and creative tips on his website!

International Dot Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-dots-coloring-page

Decorate the Dots Coloring Page

 

How would you color these dots? Grab your favorite paints, markers, or crayons and let your imagination fly with this printable Decorate the Dots Coloring Page.

Picture Book Review

 

September 14 – Live Creative Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-crocodali-cover

About the Holiday

Today, let your inner artist out! There are as many ways to be creative as there are people—that’s what makes today such a special event! Everyone sees, hears, and experiences the world in a different way. How do you? Grab the creative tool or instrument of your choice and let your friends, family, and even strangers see the creative genius inside you!

Crocodali

By Lucy Volpin

 

You open the book, expecting to be welcomed with open arms by the characters inside. Instead, who do you meet but a very busy crocodile. With not a little braggadocio he reveals that he is “Crocodali, the most talented painter in the whole wide world.” It seems you’ve stumbled into his studio, and he’s setting up to create a new masterpiece, leaving him no time to stop for a chat or even to give you an autograph.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-crocodali-in-the-studio

Copyright Lucy Volpin, 2017, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

But after he’s given you the brush off, so to speak, he suddenly needs your help. Crocodali just can’t get the canvas to sit straight on the easel. He asks if you wouldn’t mind tilting the book just a little to the right. Oh, no! Now it needs to go a little to the left. Can you tilt it back just a wee bit? Oh dear! Now the canvas and the easel have toppled over! Even the paint cans tipped on their sides, and some blue and yellow has splashed onto the clean, white canvas.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-crocodali-tilt

Copyright Lucy Volpin, 2017, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

Well! Crocodali is a little miffed! He wants you to just go on reading and leave the cleaning up to him. Wait, wait, wait! Did you turn the page? (Isn’t that part of reading, though?) Now the canvas is completely on its side and there are some splotches of red on it too. Crocodali is in a huff because now he’ll have to start all over. But he takes a second look and in the next moment has had a change of heart. Now he thinks “that looks quite nice. Maybe you’re onto something.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-crocodali-tilt-the-other-way

Copyright Lucy Volpin, 2017, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

He even invites you to “give the book a shake and see what happens.” What happens is that the paints, brushes, canvas, and even Crocodali himself are now rattling around the pages all topsy-turvy. When things settle down, the room and the great artist are covered in paint. Crocodali sets the painting back on the easel and steps back to take a look. Hmmmm…. He likes it! But maybe it’s upside down? He’s going to turn it over and add a few more details.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-crocodali-tipped-over

Copyright Lucy Volpin, 2017, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

With a very dexterous tail and his right hand, he dabs on purple, brushes on yellow and red, and is then ready to “mix it all up.” Here’s where you come in again. Can you give the canvas a good rub? Wow! The painting looks amazing! Crocodali exclaims, “It’s a masterpiece! I really am the greatest painter in the world.” He’s the greatest painter in the world? Who did all the work? Whatever…. The painting now needs to dry, and Crocodali wants you to blow on it to speed up the process.

One…two…three…Blow! Huh! You have some power! You blew all the paint off the canvas and onto the wall! It looks incredible, through—and leaves the canvas blank to start all over again!

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-crocodali-on-its-side

Copyright Lucy Volpin, 2017, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

Kids will love Lucy Volpin’s feisty, boastful crocodile who comes to see that even mishaps can spark creativity. The giggles will begin on the first page as Crocodali (an inspired character and name) strolls into the studio sporting a Salvador Dali mustache and dismissing readers away with a wave of his hand. As children begin interacting with the pages, they’ll look forward to what comes next. Large images of the canvas allow children to really see the effects of their actions, and the two-page “shaken” spread is a delight of mayhem and color.

Kids will also enjoy turning the book around to see the various perspectives of the painting they’re creating throughout the story. Volpin gives readers lots of opportunities to discuss art, color, painting, and even teamwork, making Crocodali a joyful and inviting introduction to the creative process.

Crocodali would be a lively, playful opening to arts and crafts sessions in schools, libraries, and at home. For art lovers or energetic kids who like interaction with their reading, Crocodali is a wonderful choice.

Ages 3 – 8

little bee books, 2017 | ISBN 978-1499806335

Live Creative Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-supply-jar-craft

Make Your Own Creative Supply Jars

 

When inspiration hits, you want to have all of your supplies close at hand! With this easy craft you can use your creativity to make a one-of-a-kind jar to keep all of your favorite things neat, tidy, and within reach! These make great gifts for friends too!

Supplies

  • A wide-mouth plastic jar, such as a peanut butter jar
  • Paint or markers for plastic
  • Multi-surface chalkboard paint (optional)
  • Paint brush
  • Chalk (optional)

Directions

  1. Design your jar
  2. If you are planning to use chalkboard paint, paint that section first
  3. Paint or decorate with markers
  4. Let dry
  5. Fill with your art of other creative supplies

Picture Book Review

August 29 – It’s American Artist Appreciation Month

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-maya-lin-artist-architect-of-light-and-lines-cover

About the Holiday

This month we celebrate the artists who interpret the unique history, culture, and people of America in ways that bring new meaning and insight to those who interact with it. To celebrate, visit your local art museum or take a trip to another city to view peices you’ve never seen before. The dynamics of seeing art up close provides new perspectives and appreciation.

Maya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines

Written by Jeanne Walker Harvey | Illustrated by Dow Phumiruk

 

As a child, Maya Lin loved playing and interacting with nature near her home. She and her brother liked to run over what Maya had named “the Lizard’s Back”—a hill behind her house—and into the woods. Sometimes Maya went into the woods alone and “sat as still as a statue, hoping to tame rabbits, raccoons, chipmunks, and squirrels.” She liked to play chess with her brother and build towns from scraps of paper, boxes, books, and other things she found around the house.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-maya-lin-artist-architect-of-light-and-lines-in-forest

Image copyright Dow Phumiruk, 2017, text copyright Jeanne Walker Harvey, 2017. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

Maya’s “parents had fled China at a time when people were told what to be and how to think.” They did not want the same for their children and always encouraged Maya to be and think what she wanted. Maya grew up surrounded by art. Her father worked with clay, and her mother was a poet. Maya also liked to make things with her hands. The beautiful library where she went to college inspired Maya to become an architect.

To learn about different buildings, Maya traveled all over the world. When she was only a senior in college, “Maya entered a contest to design a memorial to honor soldiers who died during the Vietnam War.” The contest stated two rules: the memorial had to fit in with a park-like setting, and it had to include the 58,000 names of the soldiers who had died in the war. These rules resonated with Maya. She “believed that a name brings back all the memories of a person, more than a photo of a moment in time.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-maya-lin-artist-architect-of-light-and-lines-as-young-girl

Image copyright Dow Phumiruk, 2017, text copyright Jeanne Walker Harvey, 2017. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

Maya visited the site where the memorial would be built. As she looked at the gently rolling hill, she envisioned a simple cut in the earth that would support a polished wall covered in names. Not only would the wall reflect those who died, but also those who came to visit and the surrounding nature. At school, Maya worked with mashed potatoes and then with clay to help her create the perfect monument. When she had finished her drawings and plans, she wrote an essay to accompany them. She wrote that her monument would be “a place to be experienced by walking down, then up past names that seemed to go on forever.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-maya-lin-artist-architect-of-light-and-lines-with-parents

Image copyright Dow Phumiruk, 2017, text copyright Jeanne Walker Harvey, 2017. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

More than 1,400 artists and architects—many of them famous—entered the contest. The designs were hung in an airplane hangar anonymously for judging. Finally, the day came for the announcement of the winner. When the judges called out Maya Lin’s name and she came forward, they were surprised to find that she was so young. Maya was excited to have won, but then some people began to object to her design. Some said her “design looked like a bat, a boomerang, a black gash of shame.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-maya-lin-artist-architect-of-light-and-lines-library

Image copyright Dow Phumiruk, 2017, text copyright Jeanne Walker Harvey, 2017. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

Maya was hurt by these comments, but she defended her design and, finally, it was approved. Maya worked with the architects and engineers who excavated the land and built the wall. As each granite panel was polished, engraved with the soldiers’ names, and set in place, Maya looked on. The memorial opened on Veterans Day in 1982. Thousands of people came to see it and to find the names of loved ones they had lost. As Maya approached the wall, “she searched for the name of the father of a friend. When she touched the name, she cried, just as she knew others would.” Every day since then visitors come to the wall to remember.

Maya Lin has gone on to design many more works of art and architecture that can be seen inside and outside. Each piece has a name and a particular vision. Maya wants people to interact with her art—to touch it; read, walk, or sit near it; or think about it. After each piece is finished, Maya thinks about her next work and how she can inspire the people who will see it.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-maya-lin-artist-architect-of-light-and-lines-Vietnam-War-Memorial

Image copyright Dow Phumiruk, 2017, text copyright Jeanne Walker Harvey, 2017. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

An Author’s Note about Maya Lin and the Vietnam War Memorial follows the text.

Jeanne Walker Harvey has written an inspiring biography of Maya Lin that reveals not only her creativity but the importance of creative freedom for children. Lin’s confidence that led her to enter the contest and then defend her winning design will encourage readers to pursue their dreams. Harvey’s lyrical storytelling reflects Maya Lin’s quiet, introspective nature, the influences that nurtured her creative spirit, and her dedication to inviting others to be part of her art.

Dow Phumiruk’s graceful, soft-hued illustrations allow children to follow Maya Lin as she grows from a girl discovering nature, constructing cardboard cities, and learning the arts from her parents to a young woman who draws inspiration from the world’s buildings and relies on her own sensitivity to guide her. Back-to-back pages of the landscape of Vietnam and the site of the memorial connect the two places for children’s better understanding. Phumiruk’s depictions of the Vietnam War Memorial also give children an excellent view of this moving monument. Her images of Lin’s other architectural work will entice young readers to learn more about her and to explore where each of these pieces can be found.

Ages 4 – 8

Henry Holt & Company Books for Young Readers, 2017 | ISBN 978-1250112491

Discover more about Jeanne Walker Harvey and her books on her website!

Learn more about Dow Phumiruk, her art, and her books on her website!

American Artist Appreciation Month Activity

 celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-picture-frame

Fantastic Frame

 

Every great work of art deserves the perfect frame to display it. With a frame ready to decorate from a craft store and a few materials, you can create a Fantastic Frame for any of your drawings or photos!

Ideas for Decorating

  • Stickers
  • Decorative buttons
  • Small objects
  • Shells
  • Markers, crayons, or paint
  • Stencils
  • Washi Tape

Picture Book Review

August 25 – It’s American Artist Appreciation Month

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-radiant-child-cover

About the Holiday

This month we honor the artists of the past and those currently creating work that represents, reflects, and translates the world we live in. There are as many ways of making art as there are artists, so take some time this month to visit an art museum or gallery, to look online or read a book and discover life in a whole new way.

Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat

By Javaka Steptoe

 

“Somewhere in Brooklyn, between hearts that thump, double Dutch, and hopscotch / and salty mouths that slurp sweet ice, a little boy dreams of being a famous artist.” All day Jean-Michel sits surrounded by colored pencils and “a storm of papers” and draws. As he sleeps his dreams swirl with images. When he wakes he adds to his drawings, scribbling away. What he creates is “sloppy, ugly, and sometimes weird, but somehow still beautiful.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-radiant-child-beautiful-art

Image and text copyright Javaka Steptoe, courtesy of Little, Brown Books for Young People

Jean-Michel’s talent comes from his Puerto Rican mother, who has a natural sense of style and design and who always makes time to draw with her son, lying on the floor next to him. She takes Jean-Michel to art museums and theaters and reads poetry to him, but she also shows him the art of the city—its sounds, sights, style, and “patchwork” colors. Jean-Michel loves to visit the museum and read about the artwork and the artists. From these stories he “learns what it means to be a famous artist.”

When Jean-Michel is seriously injured in a car accident, his world seems scary and confusing. His mother gives him an anatomy book, which he memorizes. It erases his fears and becomes influential in his work. After returning home, his life changes when his mother suffers a breakdown and can no longer live at home. “He tries drawing the terrible out of his blues, but things are not the same.” Jean-Michel visits his mother when he can, “always bringing his artwork to show, telling her that one day it will be in a museum, ‘when I am a famous artist.’”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-radiant-child-drawing

Image and text copyright Javaka Steptoe, courtesy of Little, Brown Books for Young People

As a teenager, Jean-Michel follows his dream, moving from Brooklyn to New York City. There he stays with friends, painting, creating collages, and writing poems on paper strewn about him. At night he paints on city walls, trash cans, and other urban canvases. His art, signed ‘Samoo,’ attracts attention. People wonder: “‘Who is Samoo?’”

Soon his art can be found in art galleries and hanging in the homes of the people who buy his work. Jean-Michel continues to create, listening to “a sound track that is all his own.” Through talent, inspiration, and his mother’s loving influence, Jean-Michel Basquiat conquered the art world, becoming a king among artists, and fulfilling his desire to be a famous artist.

An extensive Author’s Note about Jean-Michel Basquait’s life, including his struggles with addiction and his death in 1988; the motifs and symbolism in his work; and a personal comment on the impact Basquait’s art had on the author, follow the text.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-radiant-child-studio

Image and text copyright Javaka Steptoe, courtesy of Little, Brown Books for Young People

Javaka Steptoe’s compelling biography of this complex, brilliant artist who people called “radiant, wild, a genius child” beautifully brings to life the inspirations and motivations that fueled his unique and intense talent. Steptoe delivers the story in staccato and flowing sentences, using consonance, assonance, and repetition—the rhythms of a poet. He shows how Basquiat maintained his focused determination, self-confidence, and persistence from childhood into adulthood. This perseverance reveals to readers that success is not a matter of luck, but of belief in oneself despite obstacles. Steptoe sensitively addresses the serious injury Basquiat suffered, his mother’s mental illness and Basquiat’s continued love for her, and his unsettled teenage years to complete this far-reaching life story.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-radiant-child-boxing-image

Image and text copyright Javaka Steptoe, courtesy of Little, Brown Books for Young People

Steptoe’s mixed-media paintings were created on found wood from neighborhoods across New York City. While Steptoe does not reproduce any of Basquiat’s work, he states that readers will find “original pieces that were inspired by him and my interpretations of his paintings and designs.” As befitting his subject, Steptoe offers pages that burst with vibrant color and intricate details and beat with the pulse of the city, the people, the dreams, and the imagination that Basquiat transcribed onto paper, walls, and canvas. Part collage, part fine art, Steptoe’s illustrations will fascinate children and entice them to linger and take in the emotion and meaning in each. The final spread, a crowd scene made up of photographs, sets Basquiat in the midst of people whom he and his art continue to inspire.

Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat offers children an inspirational model of creativity, compassion, and confidence no matter where their talents lie. The book is an excellent choice for school, public, and home libraries.

Ages 6 – 10

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2016 | ISBN 978-0316213882

Learn more about Javaka Steptoe, his books, art exhibitions, and life on his website!

American Artist Appreciation Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-motivation-and-inspiration-day-craft

Make Art from Found Objects

 

Each person finds inspiration in different things, places, and people. Today, try to create something new from the materials around you. Boxes, bottles, wire, magazines, cloth, wood, sponges—almost anything—can be transformed with some imagination. With those old socks, corks, flower pots, candle stubs, bits of ribbon, clementine crate, paint, glitter, beads, and more, you can make something useful, a decoration for your room, or even a gift for a friend!

Picture Book Review

August 2 – It’s American Artist Appreciation Month

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-seen-art-cover

About the Holiday

Celebrating art is always a great thing! This month we celebrate art created in America. The unique history, landscape, population, and cultural influences of the United States fosters artwork that is distinctively American. This month gives us the opportunity to explore pieces dating back to the founding of our country as well as the paintings, sculpture, crafts, pottery, and other arts being created today. Take the time to visit museums, galleries, arts and craft shows, and theaters to discover old favorites and new inspiration.

Seen Art?

Written by Jon Scieszka | Illustrated by Lane Smith

 

A little boy has arranged to meet his friend Art at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Fifty-third Street in New York City. When he arrives, however, Art isn’t there. The boy asks a woman nearby, “‘Have you seen Art?’” The lady points him in the direction of a beautiful new building further down the street. When he gets there, the boy doesn’t see Art, but he does meet an official-looking gentleman. “‘You seen Art?’” the boy inquires.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-seen-art-woman

Image copyright Lane Smith, 2005, text copyright Jon Scieszka, 2005. Courtesy of Viking Books for Young Readers.

“‘MoMA?” the man asks. The boy thinks, didn’t the lady ask the same thing? Figuring it’s some kind of code word, he answers, “‘Yes.’” Great news! The building is just opening, the man tells him. After giving another woman the code word, the boy is led upstairs. She stops in front of a painting with blue swirls, writhing trees, and a moon glowing over a quiet village. “‘Can’t you just feel the restlessness? The color? The emotion?’” The boy can feel it, but he’s more interested in finding Art.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-seen-art-collage

Image copyright Lane Smith, 2005, text copyright Jon Scieszka, 2005. Courtesy of Viking Books for Young Readers.

A little man standing nearby seems to know where to go, and he leads the boy through a room filled with more paintings and sculpture. The man stops in front of a painting. “‘Look at that red! Look at that open box of crayons inviting us in. The grandfather clock? It has no hands. Time is suspended.’” The boy sees all this too. But, really, what he wants to know is—“‘is Art here?’”

A little girl across the room knows what he means. She can show him art. She takes him past a fur-covered teacup and spoon to a painting of an eye. But this is no ordinary eye. Instead of blue, brown, or green, this eye is clouds. “‘Your dream can be what is real,’” she explains. They see another painting with a melting clock in which time is messed up too, but it’s still not Art.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-seen-art-chair

Image copyright Lane Smith, 2005, text copyright Jon Scieszka, 2005. Courtesy of Viking Books for Young Readers.

Suddenly, a painter hugs the boy for his astute observation. He asks, is art “‘trying to capture dreams? Or is it making images everyone can recognize?’” Next, a lady shows the boy an alarming painting of a woman with whom she identifies, and a baby points out a picture of a brown “‘moo moo’” cow. It seems that in every corner there is another person expounding on a painting in front of them: the shapes, the mystery!, the composition, the color, the atmosphere.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-seen-art-dejected

Image copyright Lane Smith, 2005, text copyright Jon Scieszka, 2005. Courtesy of Viking Books for Young Readers.

But each time the boy answers, “‘Not exactly the Art I was looking for.’” Perhaps, he is interested in the Bell-47D1 helicopter hanging from the ceiling. Is it art? The boy strides past more pieces; they are puzzling, personal, playful, provocative and powerful. Art is not just paintings, he is told. Finally! They seem to be getting it. He begins to ask one more time about his friend, but he’s shown more photographs, sculpture, objects, and films.

The boy decides he needs to find Art on his own. He discovers a majestic painting as long as two rooms, a slippy-slidey chair, images of soup cans that make him hungry…the café…and sculptures of a family and a goat. Soon itvs time to leave. Back on the sidewalk and feeling dejected, the boy thinks he’ll never find his friend. “‘Hello, again,’” he hears. It’s the lady he met that morning. “‘Did you find art?’” she asks.

The boy is about to say no, but he remembers everything he has seen. “‘Yes,’” he answers. And when he finds Art waiting for him, the two go through MoMA again.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-seen-art-friend

Image copyright Lane Smith, 2005, text copyright Jon Scieszka, 2005. Courtesy of Viking Books for Young Readers.

Notes on each piece along with thumbnail images follow the text.

With clever word play, a humorous nod to the juxtaposed ideas “I know what I like/I like what I know,” and a wink at the world of art criticism, Jon Scieszka takes readers on a tour of the art collection at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. The simple misunderstanding of the word Art in the story introduces children to the nature of interpretation and the variety of forms it can take. Through the many people the little boy meets, Scieszka presents a fabulous opportunity for adults and children to talk about opinions and how each person can have their own while accepting those of others. Scieszka’s rich language is as enticing as the art presented and gives kids and adults a vast vocabulary to use in talking about what art—and life—has to offer.

Lane Smith’s simple line-drawn and abstract figures are the perfect tour guides to the reproductions of famous paintings, sculpture, installations, and other art found at MoMA. Printed in full, vibrant color, the artwork dazzles, drawing readers in to stop and explore each image. An excellent survey of classic and modern pieces will delight and fascinate kids.

For art lovers and those just discovering the world of creativity, Seen Art? is an absorbing book that will entice both children and adults to learn more about art. The book would be a fun and engaging addition to school art programs or units as well as for home libraries.

Ages 3 – 8 and up

Viking Books for Young Readers, 2005 |ISBN 978-0670059867

Discover more about about Jon Scieszka, his books, and other fun stuff on his website.

View a gallery of book illustration and other artwork by Lane Smith on his website.

American Artists Appreciation Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-rainbow-crayon-craft

Rainbow Crayon Art

 

With this cool project you can create an art piece that’s as colorful as a rainbow and as unique as you are! Adult help is needed for children.

Supplies

  • Box of 24 crayons
  • White foam board or thick poster board, 8 inches by 17 inches
  • A small piece of corrugated cardboard, about 5 inches by 5 inches (a piece of the foam board can also be used for this step)
  • A small piece of poster board, about 5 inches by 5 inches
  • Scissors
  • X-acto knife (optional)
  • Hot glue gun
  • Hair dryer
  • Old sheets or towels, newspapers, a large box, or a trifold display board

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-rainbow-crayon-craft

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-rainbow-crayon-craft

Directions

  1. Remove the various red, orange, yellow, blue, indigo, and violet hued crayons from the box of crayons
  2. Strip the paper from the crayons by slicing the paper with the x-acto knife, or removing it by hand
  3. Line them up in order at the top of the white foam board
  4. With the hot glue gun, attach the crayons to the board with their tips facing down 
  5. Cut an umbrella or other shape of your choice from the poster board
  6. Trace the umbrella or other shape onto the corrugated cardboard or a piece of the foam board and cut out
  7. Glue the umbrella or other shape to the foam board, about 4 ½ inches below the crayons, let dry
  8. Set up a space where you can melt the crayons. The wax will fly, so protect the floor and walls by placing the art piece in a large box or by hanging newspapers, old sheets or towels on the walls and placing newspapers on the floor. A trifold display board and newspapers works well.
  9. Stand the art piece upright with the crayons at the top
  10. With the hot setting of the hair dryer, blow air at the crayons until they start to melt
  11. Move the hair dryer gently back and forth across the line of crayons from a distance of about 6 to 12 inches away. The closer you are to the crayons, the more they will splatter.
  12. The crayons will begin to melt and drip downward
  13. You can experiment with aiming the hair dryer straight on or at an angle to mix colors
  14. Wax that drips onto the umbrella or other shape can be chipped off after it dries or wiped off to create a “watercolor” effect on the shape
  15. Once the hair dryer is turned off, the wax cools and dries quickly
  16. Hang or display your art!

Picture Book Review