Posts tagged ‘art’

October 13, 2014

for kids who love colors. or those that don’t, but will soon. Mix it up!

by Wendy Lawrence

I was super excited when this book landed on my doorstep. Its predecessor, Press Here is one of our longtime family favorites. (If you don’t know that one, and unexpectedly interactive book of colors, definitely check out the link above.)

Mix it Up! uses the same principles of Press Here, but adds a whole dimension of colors and how they are made. Kids mix their fingers on the paint illustrations and make their own colors as if they were mixing paints themselves. What happens when you rub your finger on the blue then dip it in the yellow? Turn the pages to find out! What about if one page has a red dot and the opposite page has a yellow dot and you close them together? Turn the page again! What about if you mix a bunch of colors with white? Or with black?

mixitupTitle: Mix it Up!
Author/Illustrator: Hervé Tullet
: Picture Book, Art
Ages: 0 – 6

Kids will love playing with this book. And when you are done, they will love playing with paint! You could even really easily let your kids recreate this whole book with a simple supply of finger paints. How much fun would that be?

August 4, 2011

My son draws two ears, but JEREMY DRAWS A MONSTER

I picked my 3yo from school the other day. His teacher handed me a piece of his artwork and said how “good” he was at drawing. Despite the dubiousness of this comment, I immediately glowed with pride. The artwork was a picture of SkippyJon Jones, who at that point I had not heard of. When my son pointed to the picture proudly, I assured him that yes, it was a fantastic rendition of this SkippyJon Jones character and later when I found out who SkippyJon was, I think I still agree.

Basically, my son drew a blob with two pointed ears. When the teacher complimented him on it, he said it “wasn’t very good”, which is, unfortunately a standard line of his. (I don’t need to be a Tiger Mom because my son does that work for me.) The teacher encouraged him that it was great and drew two eyes on the picture to satisfy his perfectionist tendencies.

Talent or no, I love that my son is learning how to draw and that his drawings are starting to resemble actual things. He drew a fantastic picture of my husband  for Father’s Day that I’m pretty sure is the best thing ever made. By anyone. Ever.

Title: Jeremy Draws a Monster
Author/Illustrator: Peter McCarty
Genre: Picture Book
Ages: 2 – 7

Do you have a kid who likes to draw? If so, this is a great book that encourages drawing creativity and shows where your art might take you. It also, though, cautions against staying inside and drawing all day long. Sometimes, after all, it’s great to play with your friends.

August 2, 2011

A perfect outing, perfect illustrations, and A PERFECT SQUARE

The only thing my son likes more than finding books at the library is typing on the library computer. So after every storytime, we head to the catalog computer and he decides on a word to type as the keyword for his search. I spell it out and he searches for each letter. Recent searches have included “baseball”, “train”, “dragon”, “fairy tales”, and “mermaid”.  We write down the call numbers and end up taking home a pile of theme-related books.

But undoubtedly while searching for our books, other books catch my son’s eye and he takes them off the shelf. Books with a dinosaur or dragon on the cover. Books that are pink. Books that are sparkly. Books with a baseball on them or in them. Books that are in front of his face when he gets another book. Pretty much anything will grab his eye and he will eagerly want to take it home.

There’s a lot that is good about this, but one decided downfall which is that some of the books are awful. I mean, really bad.

And so here’s what I usually do. Surreptitiously, lest my 3yo find out I’m sneaking books into his book pile, I grab (mostly at random) books that the librarians have displayed on top of the shelves, or on their display shelves, either new books or books they particularly like. I always trust the librarians and they are always right.

They were definitely right about this one.

Title: Perfect Square
Author/Illustrator: Michael Hall
Genre: Picture Book
Ages: 0 – 7

Summary and Review:

This is a wonderful book with a simple, short, and fun prose and absolutely gorgeous pictures!  It’s the story of a square who gets ripped, torn, and cut, and in doing so, forms itself into a myriad beautiful designs, a different one each day.  It teaches your child about shapes, art, beauty, and the importance of not being confined into a box.  Literally.

Follow-up with your kids:

This is a great one for craft time.  It will be really easy for you to get some paper of different colors and cut the paper into perfect squares.  Then ask your children to rip or cut the squares into smaller shapes and make a picture out of their cuttings. You could certainly copy the ones in the book, and if your child needs a lot of structure that would be a good place to start. But encourage them to make their own; making your own shapes and celebrating your individuality is part of the lesson in the book, anyway!

October 14, 2010

“It was a modern art mess” yells my son, and I smile every time.

We found this book one lucky day in the library.  We took it home and it was an instant hit.  We renewed it.  Then sadly, we returned it.  But since we go to the library almost weekly, we checked it out again in a couple of weeks.  This trend continued for months, enjoyably, until one day I somewhat impulsively bought it.  And now we own a work of art.

I swear I don’t like this book because I want to raise an art snob.  I am definitely not an art snob.  My husband makes fun of my short attention span in art museums.  But this book is about pigs, cows, friendship, arguments, painting, being different, making up after being different, and yes, Picasso and Matisse.

This book makes up for everything you hear about schools cutting art programs even though an appreciation of the arts can help students think critically in life and in other subjects (those deemed “more important” by whoever writes those blasted standardized tests).  It also makes up for everything you’ve heard recently about picture books dying.  Because here’s the deal.  The language is rich.  The puns are numerous.  The words are big, at least some of them, and your kid is learning about Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse.  So break out the picture books!

Title: When Pigasso met Mootisse
Author: Nina Laden
: Picture Book
Age: 0 – 7

Summary and Review:

The art in this book is amazing, as really it has to be.  Half of the picture evoke the style of Picasso and half of Matisse.  My husband (remember, the guy I haven’t yet said is an art snob) was looking over our shoulder at one picture when we first got this book and said “Hey, that’s a Matisse!”  My son looked confused and I had to explain, that no, it was a Mootisse.  So there you go.

Pigasso and Mootisse grow up different from the other pigs and cows.  They like to paint.  But they are discovered and become famous.  When they each get sick of the fame, they buy farms in the country where no one will bother them.  But their houses face each other across the street, and what starts as a great friendship erupts into a feud over misunderstood painting styles.  The battle is colorful and messy.  But the artistic mammals miss each other and make up in a most beautiful way.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then this book is worth millions.

Possible conversations to have with your kids:

My favorite part of the book comes every time in one of the pages where the battle between the friends is erupting.  Paint is flying everywhere.  There is a lot of text on the page before, but an essential page break before the last line of the scene, which gets one page all to itself: “It was a modern art mess!”  I love this page because my son loves it, and every time we get there, I don’t have to read it, he reads it for me.  This is a great tactic to use anytime you are reading with your kids.  Once a book becomes familiar, try leaving out the last word in sentence.   Especially if it rhymes, they are likely to remember.  By participating, they are getting their first chance to feel what it’s like to read something.  And it feels good!  And anything that feels that good is something they are likely to keep doing.

I’ve only just started this with my son, and as he’s not yet three, he doesn’t really get it yet, but he is at least interested.  Because the illustrations are done in the style of the two artists, you can spend some time pointing out the different ways that “Pigasso” painted the fruit and “Mootisse” painted the fruit.  You can point out how the styles of art are different.  Even if that’s not quite preparation for an art history class, it is at least teaching the lesson that there are many different ways to draw and paint, and by extension, that there are many different ways to do a lot of things in life.

The book ends with a page of “back matter”, information about Picasso and Matisse.  I refer to them when we are reading as “the real Picasso” and “the real Matisse.”  This page isn’t really for you to read to your kid, especially if they are still in toddler-age range.  But read it for yourself and you can pass down some of the information, bit by bit, every time you read this book with your child.  For me, we mostly just look at the pictures of the two artists.  I figure there’s time later to learn more about their lives.