Saturday, December 29, 2007

Little Artists

Several picture books nominated for the Cybils fiction picture book category would appeal to young artist because they celebrate painting, drawing, and the artist’s process.

Lily Brown’s Paintings
By Angela Johnson
Illustrated by E.B. Lewis
Orchard Books, 2007

Lily Brown loves to paint. When she paints, her world transforms. Lily Brown goes from the security of her loving family to a free spirit flying through the air. The subjects of her paintings speak to her and she responds by painting them. Lily even becomes part of her paintings. The text is written with Angela Johnson’s poetic words.

“In Lily Brown’s paintings,
the colors of people,
places, and things
change with her heart.”

The illustrations are all done in watercolor, but E.B. Lewis changes the style with each painting to celebrate favorite artists. Some paintings are in exquisite detail, others look very much a young child created them. The book is a celebration of an artist’s world and how an artist goes into another world to create masterpieces.

Hugo and Miles in I’ve Painted Everything
Written and illustrated by Scott Magoon
Houghton Mifflin, 2007

Roadblocks, artist’s block, writer’s block. We’ve probably all experienced these in our lives. Kids say, “I don’t know what to draw” or “I don’t know what to write.” What do you do when you experience a roadblock? Why, you go to Paris, of course!

Hugo is an elephant who is an artist. He thinks he has painted everything there is in the world to paint and feels like he has run out of ideas. He goes to his friend Miles for help. Miles suggests that Hugo go with him to Paris on a business trip to get some inspiration.

In Paris they see the famous sites, go to museums and look at paintings by famous artists, and have a picnic. It isn’t until he goes to the top of the Eiffel Tower that he gets his inspiration. He feels like he immediately need s to go home and get to work. He realizes it’s not what he paints, but how he paints it. It’s all about perspective. When he climbed to the top of the Eiffel Tower he realized that he saw the city in a whole different way than he’d seen it the last few days.

Magoon plays with the name Hugo too. Hugo realizes he can paint a really large picture: “Hugomongus”, paint only in different shades of the same color: “Hue-go”, paint something in the style of another artist like Van Gogh: “Van Hugo.”

This book is a fun way to look at perspective and how it affects the creative side.

Go to Bed, Monster!
By Natasha Wing
Illustrated by Sylvie Kantorovitz
Harcourt, 2007

Lucy couldn’t go to sleep, so she decided to draw—and she drew a monster. The monster wanted to play. Lucy drew everything they would need. Soon Lucy was tired, but the monster wanted to stay awake. In order to get the monster to go to bed, she drew him a bed, blankets, pajamas, a teddy bear, and even a book.

This book is about imagination—what a young artist can do with her drawing and where the drawings can take her. Lucy realizes that her imagination keeps her up at night—the monster will not go to bed. Then Lucy finally gets her rest when her monster drawing finally gets sleepy.

The illustrations in this book are playful, fun, and very child-like. This is a great book for young artists and young monster-lovers everywhere.

Written and illustrated by Deborah Freedman
Knopf, 2007

This is another art-related book with kids drawing. I recently wrote a more extensive review of it here.

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