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Entries in children's art (26)


when i was born

"When I was born

I didn’t know what the sea was.

I didn’t know that there were forests

and a world with mountains and beaches."

Avery recently asked if she didn’t know anything when she was a baby, so I thought that question was a perfect segue to this book.  Written by author Isabel Minhós Martins and illustrated by illustrator/graphic designer Madalena MatosoWhen I Was Born is a beautiful and poignant book about what it's like to be a child and experience the world for the first time.  I am in love with Madalena Matoso's bold and graphic style, and the vibrant color palette she uses to give the book a lively and playful feel.

It gives children an idea of what's it like to grow up and how much you see, hear, smell, touch, taste and learn as a baby and then as a child.  Most importantly, it gets children wondering about what they were like when they were younger, realizing how much they've changed, how much they can do on their own now that they're older, and how much they're loved.  It reminds us the importance and magic of first experiences and milestones.  This book is a must-have!

You can read more about Planeta Tangerina, a publishing house and a design studio in Carcavelos, Portugal, specializing in communication design for children and young people, co-founded by Isabel Minhós Martins and Madalena Matoso, along with two other friends.  I hope their entire incredible collection of books eventually makes its way to the U.S.!

Also, check out this lovely, lovely baby shower on The Indigo Bunting a few years back (her post might have been how I first heard about this book).


the art lesson

The Art Lesson tells about Tomie DePaola’s life as a young boy and his first encounters with school art lessons.  He is appalled to find out that there are all these rules to follow.  His art teacher finds a way to work around them, and Tomie learns some of his first important lessons in art and life.  There are so many things I love about this story.  I love books about how people came to discover their craft or vocation and I love books that tell about someone's own childhood experiences.  They give another person's perspective of what it's like growing up.  Children always seem to be curious about that.

Avery’s favorite part was "when his cousins said that you’re not supposed to copy."  Avery sometimes talks about becoming an artist.  She’s mentioned in the recent past that she would like to be a book designer or a Hello Kitty artist.  Today she said that she would like to be an “eraser artist.”  She’s been into collecting mini erasers as of late.  We shall see!

artist to artist

An excerpt from Eric Carle's introduction in Artist to Artist: 23 Major Illustrators Talk to Children About Their Art captures the spirit and mission of this special book:

“I am so pleased to be able to present this unique anthology, which I hope will be inspiring for you and for all who read it.  In the pages that follow, twenty-three artists have shared the story of their work, their art and their lives as creative people.  As I read each letter and see the images, art, works-in-progress, photographs of studios and work spaces as well as each artist’s wonderful self-portrait, I am struck by the fact that, for so many of them, the dream or the longing to make pictures and tell stories began in early childhood. This is fascinating to me and will, I hope, be encouraging for you to read about.  Perhaps you, too, felt this way as a small child, and perhaps that is part of the reason that you find yourself now holding this book in your hands.”

If you've ever wondered about how illustrators come to be illustrators, what inspires them and what drives their work, this is the book for you.  This book illustrates the creative process and how it plays out in twenty-three different artists' work and careers.  I love books that give children a good idea of how people set off to start their careers and fulfill their ambitions.  These kinds of narratives teach children that it's a mix of God-given talent, hard work and tenacity that drive your career or life's work, whatever it might be.

Each illustrator's profile features some of their early work (and even some pieces done as young children), photographs of their studio, works from various stages of their creative process, a self-portrait and a letter from them to the children reading this book.  Often, they talked about the moment in their childhood that they started to draw, what life was like trying to make a living as an artist and setbacks they encountered along the way.  

I loved the letters and reading about how all the artists in this book discovered that they loved to draw at a young age.  It made me think back to my own childhood and all those moments spent doodling in class.  As a side note--creativity is a trait sometimes just attributed to artists.  However, creativity is not just a thing needed for art, but for life.  Not only do children need creativity to produce art, they need it to solve problems, to think "outside of the box" in order to generate an innovative solution, to be good negotiators, to be successful in life.  

Avery liked seeing examples of the artists’ work, illustrations and photos of their studios.  Avery's favorite piece of art was the pop-up robot by Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart towards the end of the book.  I hope she'll read through Artist to Artist again and again, and soak up all the inspiration it has to offer.  A thousand thanks to Eric Carle who put the time and energy into assembling such an amazing anthology.


henri's walk to paris

Henri’s Walk to Paris was written by Leonore Klein and illustrated by Saul Bass.  Leonore Klein was a librarian as well as an author of children's books.  Saul Bass was a graphic designer and filmmaker, and this was the only children’s book he ever illustrated.  It was originally published in 1962 and reissued in 2012.  It's about a little boy named Henri, who wonders what life is like in Paris.  He plans a trip to Paris with a sweet and unexpected ending.

Bass’ style is a throwback to the bold, modern aesthetic of the 1960s (which is no surprise—it’s when the book was first published).  I love the use of pattern and repetition, modern and sparse lines and shapes.  Color plays a big role in this book.  Bass uses color to contrast city and country—bright pinks, reds and oranges for Paris' lively urban setting versus serene greens, blues and browns for the tranquil countryside of Henri’s small town, Reboul.  

If Saul Bass had illustrated more books, we would definitely have them all in our library.  Any of the pages in this book would make amazing wallpaper!



Just catching up on posting photos here.  We made these lanterns to celebrate Lunar New Year last month, inspired by this post by The Imagination Tree.  They would also work as decor for a summer party or play date!