Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Discover Picture Book Art

Hey again! Yesterday afternoon I missed out on yet another program that I enthusiastically planned out and was looking forward to doing. Yet, despite that, I'm feeling pretty good! I think I can finally see a light at the end of the disability tunnel. I've still got a few weeks to go, but the light is finally, a little bit, shining.

Anyway, I wanted to share my plan and the details of yesterday's program, even though I wasn't actually there to see it through. It was called Discover Picture Book Art. The inspiration for it came from when I saw the great Lois Elhert speak at a conference last October.

She spoke with her editor, Allyn Johnston. The dynamic between them and the stories Ms. Elhert told us about her childhood were so interesting and inspiring. I also attended a Lois Elhert book discussion at this conference, where we had the chance to create Lois Elhert-inspired art using what was basically scraps and junk. Here are three of our creations (mine's the cat all the way on the right):

After this, I had it in my head that I would do a Lois Elhert program, where I read a few of her books, then let the kids craft with leftover old craft scraps.

I guess it was some time during my description of enthusiastically reusing garbage, when my colleague suggested taking it up a notch and including other illustrators too. Well, to that I say... Consider it done!

I decided to pick 4 illustrators who's art, to me, had a particular kind of distinguished style. First, of course, was Lois Elhert, but deciding on three more was hard! Eventually I chose Michael Hall, Mo Willems, and Jean Marzollo (I Spy) to complete the list.

Like I said, I'm out on disability, but my colleague executed this program so beautifully. She is incredibly artistic and a talented librarian; the kids were almost lucky to have her fill in for me. There is no way I would have pulled this off as well as she did.

I'll take credit for the plan though. I envisioned this:

4 stations set up around the room-- one for each artist: Lois Ehlert, Michael Hall, Mo Willems, and Jean Marzollo. I planned to put books from each illustrator on the tables and briefly go through the different art techniques they used with the kids. Then the kids would get a chance to create art in the style of each illustrator.

On the Lois Ehlert table: MISCELLANEOUS JUNK AND SCRAPS (with a side of enthusiasm)!

On the Michael Hall table: I'd envisioned this being somewhat similar but instead of just junk, there would be die-cut shapes.

On the Mo Willems table: These "How To Draw Pigeon" sheets from Classymommy.com and, of course, paper and pencils.

On the Jean Marzollo table: A bunch of little toys and miscellaneous things and some kind of trays or plates. Then have the kids create a "scene" by arranging the stuff and then choosing one random item to "spy".

Here is how my colleague set up the room. I love how she put everything around the perimeter of the room, like an awesome, creative buffet. Did I mention she's wonderful?

Lois Elhert Table
Michael Hall Table
Mo Willems Table
Jean Marzollo Table

Here are some of our creative young patrons making really impressive art (I shouldn't be surprised):

These photos were sent to me along with a text saying, "The program was a great success. Some kids were asking if we would have it again." 

So great to hear! But, of course, the big question is, can I think of 4 more illustrators? (Anyone have any ideas?)


  1. I know from experience how difficult it can be to miss out on work due to illness - but isn't it wonderful to have a job you actually miss and can't wait to get back to? :) Kudos on a really neat programming idea!

  2. A delightfully exciting idea! I loved Mili Faye's "Animals In My Hair" book. My newly adopted granddaughter was mesmerized that she wasn't the only one with hard-to-control curls.Thanks for your efforts to increase kids reading and imaginations!