Bloom: A Story of Fashion Designer Elsa Schiaparelli by Kyo Maclear; illustrated by Julie Morstad. 2018. Liquid watercolor, gouache, and pencil crayons. Published by HarperCollins.
Brief summary: Growing up in Italy, Elsa notices the brilliant colors of the flowers. She enjoys designing dresses and is influenced by the countries she visits. Back in Paris, she befriends other artists of the surrealistic art movement and begins to bloom at age 37 when she opens her first shop. She and a chemist, Jean Clement, create a bright pink in which she uses in her dress fabrics.
Comments: End pages are brilliant pink. Told in the first person narrative through Elsa’s voice. She was known as mixing fabrics not commonly done and often had clothing as art. Brief bio sketch in the back detailing some of the new clothing creations that are common today like see-through raincoats and colored tights. Book for the young artistic fashionista.
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Silent Days, Silent Dreams by Allen Say; illustrated by Allen Say. 2017. Burnt match sticks, sharpened stick dipped in soot mixed with spit, wastepaper, cardboard, cotton wads, rags, Q-tips, big nails, toothpicks, brushes, and fingers. Published by Arthur A. Levine Books.
Brief summary: James Castle was deaf, mute, autistic, and believed to be dyslexic, and although he attended five years at the Idaho School for the Deaf and the Blind, he did not learn to write, read, speak or even use sign language. He created his own calligraphy and made hundreds of books and albums. Living in poverty, he drew on what paper was around and created over 15,000 pieces of artwork often using match sticks and spit. Readers will learn about the harsh life this artist had endured from being different. The bullying. The isolation. The unkindness from his own relatives.
Comments: I suggest reading the author’s note in the back first. Allen Say’s friend, Cort Conley, asked him to create a portrait of a local Idaho artist. Mr. Say agreed to do a portrait drawing after receiving the artist’s photo and catalog of works. Allen Say became intrigued by the artist and his unique style of drawings so researched him more. Many publications and relative interviews about Mr. Castle had conflicting stories. Allen Say wrote this book and created the artwork in the same way James Castle created. The artist’s portrait is in the back. The tools Allen Say used are shown as well. I was impressed that Mr. Say totally submerged himself into understanding Mr. Castle by experimenting and using the same tools as the artist.
I think this would be a superb read aloud not only to learn about this artist but to better understand empathy, perseverance, and uniqueness from another’s life. Can you imagine not being able to hear, speak or communicate with others? What do you think it was like for Mr. Castle to see his works in a gallery? Did the time period he live in understand him? Did people understand autism more now or then? How did his relatives treat him? How would you feel if your family treated you the same way?
What is Your Favorite Color? by Eric Carle and Friends; illustrated by Eric Carle and Friends. 2017. Various mediums. Published by Henry Holt and Co.
Brief summary: Fifteen famous children illustrators answer what color they like and why.
Comments: The illustrations are two page layouts in the illustrator’s own unique style. The back pages have a photo of the illustrator as a child and a brief biographical sketch. The name of the artist is in the color he/she likes. We have all been asked this ancient question, but have we explained why? This book could be shared with young readers before asking them the question. I would include a “draw your reason” part to this activity as well. Note: Anna Dewdney is in this collection. That tugged at my heart a little when I turned to her layout. She was one of my students’ favorite rhyming author.
(I may receive a small commission for purchases made with links in this post through the Amazon Affiliate Program. Books in this picture book blog are not sent to me in exchange for a review, but instead, are checked out from a public library).
This House, Once by Deborah Freedman; illustrated by Deborah Freedman. 2017. Pencil, watercolor, colored pencil, pan pastel “with an assist Photoshop”. Published by Antheneum Books for Young Readers.
Brief summary: Readers are told through words and illustrations how the different parts of the house use to be part of Earth. “The door was once a colossal oak tree…”
Comments: This will help students to think how things are made back to the simplest form to its present form. I could see using this book in the kindergarten curriculum for the “how things are made” unit. I often wondered as a child of how things were made but did not ask. I would have appreciated a book like this one. Each child will go home looking at his/her house in a new way perhaps wondering how other things are made; what it was originally in nature or man-made. This book is the stepping stone to other wonderment around us.
Although this book is soft and quiet with its gentle colors of watercolors and few words floating from one page to the next, I believe it is a profound book that makes the reader consider the origins of things. This may be one of those first books that sparks the fire of curiosity to learn more about other origins of things in our daily lives. How is the car made? Where did the tire come from? How were they made? What about the food I’m eating? How was this bread made? Wait a second, how was I made?
(I may get a commission for purchases made through links in this post through the Amazon Affiliate Program. Books reviewed were checked out of the public library and not sent to me free for review).
Swatch: The Girl Who Loved Color by Julia Denos; illustrated by Julia Denos. 2016. Watercolors, pen and ink, and pencil with Adobe Photoshop.
Brief summary: Swatch was a free-spirited girl who loved color. She collected colors to tame them except yellow did not want to be tamed. Swatch learns from yellow’s wild and free nature that not all colors should be tamed.
Comment: Children will find the illustrations full of energy. I plan to share this with the art teacher who will appreciate the freedom of color and the positive energy the book conveys to budding artists.
Rain Fish by Lois Ehlert; illustrated by Lois Ehlert. 2016. Collage
Brief Summary: After the rain, one can walk through the city and see images of fish made out of everyday things found in the streets.
Comment: I think this book would be a good example to use in art class to show how we can use our imagination and see things in new ways.