April 20, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

A Picture Paints 1,000 Words: Books About the Power of Art │ JLG’s Booktalks to Go

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Children often learn to draw, paint, and create by copying the works of others. Supplying them with stories about successful artists who overcame obstacles to do what they love most can inspire them—especially as budget cuts continue to reduce the number of art programs across the country. The following selections by the editors of Junior Library Guild are sure to be welcome in libraries and classrooms and the hands of aspiring artists.

Edward HopperBURLEIGH, Robert. Edward Hopper Paints His World. illus. by Wendell Minor. Holt. 2014. ISBN 9780805087529. JLG Level: BE : Biography Elementary (Grades 2–6).

On the cover of his pencil box Edward Hopper wrote “Would be Artist.” He knew what he wanted and worked towards his goal. He practiced. He went to school. He studied. He painted. He illustrated magazines, but what he really wanted to do was to present America in a fresh new way. He sought subjects that moved him. But no one wanted to buy his artwork. He needed a break, but when would he get it?

Read more about the author Burleigh and his work on his website. Kids can learn more about the book’s illustrator Minor by taking advantage of the “send a free postcard” opportunity listed on his website. Video trailers of his books are also available, including Edward Hopper Paints His World. Follow Minor on Facebook and Twitter. For more on Edward Hopper and his paintings, visit The Metropolitan Museum or the Smithsonian Museum websites. Other resources suggested in the back matter are included in the JLG Fall 2014 LiveBinder.

DrawCOLÓN, Raúl. Draw! illus. by author. S & S. 2014. ISBN 9781442494923. JLG Level: E+ : Easy Reading (Grades 1–3).

Africa comes to life in the imagination of a boy who loves to draw. Sketchpad in hand, he enters the savannah and sets up his easel. He takes a ride on an elephant, shares sandwiches with gorillas, and runs from a rhinoceros. Where will his adventures end?

Colón draws inspiration for this wordless picture book from his own life. An author’s note indicates that as a child, he spent a great deal of time reading and drawing in his room. You can read more about the author at the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature, and follow him on his publisher’s website. In an interview on the blog “Illustration Friday,” Colón shares information on his technique.

Emilys Blue PeriodDALY, Cathleen. Emily’s Blue Period. illus. by Lisa Brown. Roaring Brook. 2014. ISBN 9781596434691. JLG Level: E : Easy Reading (Grades 1–3).

Emily likes to paint, but she is having a blue period, now that her parents are divorced. Her confusion leads to missed classwork assignments and blank pieces of paper. How can she create a depiction of her home when she’s not sure where that is anymore? Just how long will Emily’s blue period last?

Where did Daly get the idea for her new picture book? Read the interviews at The Horn Book and Mr. Schu Reads for the backstory. You can follow the author on Twitter. An interesting side note about the illustrator? Her favorite writing partner is her husband, Daniel Handler. They share the story of how they inspire each other in a post on The Daily Beast. Brown’s website reveals interesting videos about Daly’s work. Be sure to visit her contact page where you’ll also see some interesting responses to FAQs.

Include Emily’s Blue Period while teaching about the girl’s favorite artist, Picasso. From lesson ideas on Pinterest to Brain Pop (a portion of the lessons are free) to Teach Kids Art and The Artist’s Toolkit (an ALA Great Website for Kids), resources abound for the art curriculum. Blend them with your storytime or library lessons to support the arts.

Remy and LuluHAWKES, Kevin. Remy and Lulu. illus. by Hannah E. Harrison. Knopf. 2014. ISBN 9780449810873. JLG Level: E : Easy Reading (Grades 1–3).

Remy couldn’t see very well, but he loved to paint portraits. Lulu is a dog who befriended him in his journey to success. Few people were willing to pay for Remy’s wobbly-painted likenesses, so Lulu pitched in. She could paint pet portraits with great distinction and character, unbeknownst to Remy. The man grew in fame and fortune, thanks to his secret partner. But what happens when the artist learns the truth about his success?

Kids may be interested in the drawing tips on Hawkes’s website. They can contact him via email. And get an inside look at the book on the publisher’s website. Harrison, who painted the pet portraits, posts her biography and examples of her animal paintings, illustrations, and miniatures on her website. Fans can write to her via her contact link.

Mr Cornell's Dream BoxesWINTER, Jeanette. Mr. Cornell’s Dream Boxes. illus. by author. S. & S./Beach Lane. 2014. ISBN 9781442499003. JLG Level: NEK : Nonfiction Early Elementary (Grades K–2).

Mr. Cornell didn’t draw. Mr. Cornell didn’t paint. Mr. Cornell made shadow boxes with things he found when he roamed the city―Wonderlands covered in glass. What he liked to do with his dream boxes was to share them with children. He wanted them to dream too.

Winter wrote this book as a tribute to the artist. In an author’s note, she confides that she too, often builds boxes, filling them with things she loves. Kids can create their own boxes. A Google search for images reveals links to collage, lesson plans, and how to make them, as well as images of Cornell’s works. For more about Joseph Cornell, visit The Joseph Cornell Box which also gives you sources for box materials. As his boxes are scattered among many museums worldwide, visit Artcyclopedia for a list of collected works.

Additional Resources

The resources for the above titles have been organized in a new JLG Booktalks to Go: Fall 2014 LiveBinder. Titles are sorted by interest level, PreK-3, 3-6, 5-8, and YA. Check out our award-winning Spring 2014 LiveBinder which organizes resources for spring releases. All websites are posted within each LiveBinder, along with the accompanying booktalk. As I write more columns, more books and their resources are added. Everything you need to teach or share brand-new, hot-off-the-press books is now all in one place. Booktalks and resources are also included on JLG’s BTG Pinterest board.

For library resources, tips, and ideas, please visit JLG’s Shelf Life Blog.

Junior Library Guild (JLG) is a collection development service that helps school and public libraries acquire the best new children’s and young adult books. Season after season, year after year, Junior Library Guild book selections go on to win awards, collect starred or favorable reviews, and earn industry honors. Visit us at www.JuniorLibraryGuild.com. (NOTE: JLG is owned by Media Source, Inc., SLJ’s parent company.)

Deborah B. Ford About Deborah B. Ford

Deborah is the Director of Library Outreach for Junior Library Guild. She is an award-winning teacher librarian with almost 30 years of experience as a classroom teacher and librarian in K–12 schools.