Masterpiece Mix – Perfect Picture Book Friday

Title: Masterpiece Mix

Author & Illustrator: Roxie Munro

Publisher: Holiday house, 2017

Ages: 7-11

Themes: art history, inspiration, famous artists

Opening:

Today I will make a new painting.

Synopsis:

The second spread is invitational with its tubes of paint and a blank canvas. The artist-narrator takes us through the steps of prepping a canvas and gathering supplies, but in front of the empty canvas she asks herself and the readers, “But what should I paint?” As part of the artist’s process of considering what her subject should be, she introduces the readers to (still life, animals, cultural subjects, landscapes, portraits, figure studies.) These are sources of inspiration taken from 37 famous artists. Readers get to see the artist’s final painting, which is influenced by all the masterpieces she’s examined.

The back matter includes a key to the artwork with brief descriptions of each painting alongside a thumbnail sketch of the paintings presented. Before we see her “masterpiece”, she tells us that her father always says, “Do what you really love.”

The artwork she has created is of a city, which incorporates each of the paintings she shared with us. And a fun key enables the readers to spot each masterpiece within the narrator-artist’s creation.

Why I like this book:

Great introduction to famous artists and their techniques, and how we can use them to learn and be inspired from. The reference material at the end is a great resource of the famous artists and paintings/styles shown in the book. This makes a great art history primer of western art for elementary students. There are lots of great picture book biographies out there of famous artists but this fills a hole for a book giving an overview of many famous artists of the last couple of centuries (excluding abstract painters.)

Activities/resources:

Have kids create their own masterpiece.

Roxie’s website has a link to a 1-minute video by Jo Booth, Occupational Therapist, of 3- to 5-year-old children working with Masterpiece Mix in an integrated classroom (typical kids and special needs children).

Author, Eric VanRaepenbusch, has a great post up on his author birthday blog about MASTERPIECE MIX and how he took his four children to Washington DC and played a scavenger hunt at the National Gallery of Art. They located 22 famous paintings using “Masterpiece Mix.” 

Each week a group of bloggers reviews picture books we feel would make great educational reads. To help teachers, caregivers and parents, we have included resources and/or activities with each of our reviews. A complete list of the thousands of books we have reviewed can be found sorted alphabetically and by topics, here on Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

 

Posted in art, children's books, Illustrators, Perfect Picture Book Friday, resources & activities for elementary school teachers | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

Benjamin Chaud – Illustrator Interview/ Entretien avec un Illustrateur

© Benjamin Chaud, Oct. 13th 2017

 

 

 

 

OK, friends, aside me being on a bit of a Francophone kick in my life right now, for which I offer no apologies, I invited Benjamin Chaud to chat on the blog for three reasons: I dig his Gallic humor (friend him on FB and you’ll understand why); I fell in love with his character Pomelo many moons ago; he was recently selected for  the Astrid Lindgren Prize 2018! (Félicitations!) 

[JM] Author or author/illustrator? If the latter do the pictures or words come first.

[BC] C’est souvent une ambiance, une situation dessinée dans mon carnet de croquis qui vient en premier, ensuite j’essaie d’imaginer ce que l’histoire va être, ce que j’ai envie de raconter, de quoi j’ai envie de parler. Je dessine rapidement les différentes pages du livres au brouillon qui seront les différents moments de l’histoire. Et ce n’est qu’après que je rédige le texte de façon définitive, c’est le moment le plus difficile pour moi, il faut que je marche beaucoup en pensant aux mots que je vais utliser. Et une fois que les crayonnés et le texte sont validés par mon éditeur je fais les illustrations définitives.

[BC] It’s often an atmosphere, a sketch in my notebook of doodles which is the first spark, then I try and imagine what the storyline could be, what I want to tell, what I want to speak about. I do a rapid first draft of the different scenes in the story. And only after this do I write out the text more definitively, this is the hardest moment for me, and I always need to walk a lot to reflect on the words I want to use. Once the thumbnails and text are okayed by my editor, I can work on the final illustrations.

[JM] Where are you from and how has this influenced your art?

[BC] Je viens des hautes Alpes, un petit village de montagne dans le sud de la France. Vivre dans les montagnes m’a surement donné le goût de l’effort et l’endurance nécessaire pour finir un album. Il y avait suffisament peu d’enfants autour de moi pour que je puisse m’imaginer que j’avais ma place dans le monde en tant qu’illustrateur. J’ai toujours cru que si j’avais vécu en ville j’aurais été découragé par l’importance de la population et le peu de chance que j’avais de réussir par rapport à une telle concurrence et finalement et surtout je me suis beaucoup ennuyé tout seul et j’ai pu développer mon imagination.

[BC] I come from the department of the Hautes Alpes, a small mountainous village in the south of France. Living in the mountains most definitely gave me a taste of the effort and endurance necessary to create a picture book. There were so few kids around where I grew up that I could imagine finding my place in the world of illustrators. I have always thought that if I had grown up in a city, the size of the population would have discouraged me being faced with so many competitors, and above all I got really bored being alone as a kid that my imagination had great room to develop.

[JM] Please tell us a little of your beginnings as an artist. 

[BC] J’ai fait mes études aux arts appliqués de Paris et aux arts décoratifs de Strasbourg, deux très bonnes écoles où j’avais de très bons amis avec qui j’ai beaucoup appris. Pendant ma dernière année d’étude je suis allé montrer mon dossier aux éditeurs à la foire des livres de Bologne. J’étais très impressionné ce n’était pas facile du tout de montrer mon travail mais c’est là que j’ai renconré mon premier éditeur et que j’ai publié mon premier album (qui était mon projet de fin d’année à l’école). C’était il y a 18 ans et depuis j’ai toujours eu la chance d’avoir des livres à illustrer et à écrire.

[BC] I did my studies in drawing and applied arts in Paris and Strasbourg at two excellent schools where I had some great friends from whom I learned a lot. During my final year of studies I went to the Bologna Book fair to show my portfolio to some publishers. I was impressed by the whole experience and showing my work took courage, but it was here I encountered my first publisher who would publish my first book (which was the thesis of my final year). That was 18 years ago and since I have always had the possibility to have books to illustrate and write.

 [JM] What is your preferred medium to work in?

[BC] Ce que je préfère par dessus tout c’est le crayon sur le papier mais je ne l’utilise que pour mes crayonnés car j’imagine qu’il faut des couleurs pour faire des livres pour enfants (ou alors c’est que je n’ai pas assez confiance en mon trait pour m’en contenter). Comme il faut bien mettre de la couleur j’utilise de la gouache et des crayons de couleurs pour faire mes illustrations, c’est à chaque fois un combat dont je ressorts plus ou moins satisfait.

[BC] What I like most is pencil on paper but I only use this for my sketch work because I imagine we need colors for children’s books (or maybe I just don’t have enough confidence in my line drawing to be satisfied with this). Because we need some color, I use gouache and colored pencils to create my illustrations, and each time it is a battle from which I come out of more or less satisfied.

 [JM] Do you have themes or characters to which you return again and again in your work? 

[BC] Je fais beaucoup de séries, notament avec l’éléphant Pomelo ou petit ours et papa ours, c’est intéressant et difficile de ne pas se répéter et de toujours s’amuser à faire de nouveaux albums avec les mêmes personnages. Si je prends un peu de recul je me rends compte que je traite souvent de personnages qui se perdent ou qui ont perdu quelque chose dans les bois.

[BC] I have done lots of series, notably with the elephant Pomelo or Little Bear and Papa Bear, it’s interesting and difficult not to repeat oneself at to still have fun in making new picture books with the same characters. If I distance myself a little I realize that I often deal with characters who get lost or have lost something in the woods.

[JM] What does your studio look like? 

[BC] Après avoir longtemps habité à Paris et Marseille je vis maintenant dans la Drôme un petit village au pieds des montagnes dans le sud de la france. J’ai la grande chance d’y avoir retrouvé un de mes anciens camarades de classe avec qui je partage maintenant un atelier. C’est très important pour moi de ne pas travailler seul et de pouvoir échanger avec quelqu’un en qui je fais confiance (professionnellement) et qui a à peu près les mêmes gouts musicaux que moi.

[BC] Having lived a long time in Paris and Marseille, I now live in the Drôme in a small village in the foothills of some mountains in southern France. I have been really fortunate to meet up here with one of my college friends with whom I now share a studio. It’s really important for me not to work alone and to be able to share ideas with someone whom I respect (professionally) and with someone who has more or less the same musical tastes as me! 

[JM] Could you share some art maybe from a WIP, and a little of your process? 

These are from Bear

And these are from Pomelo.

[JM] You have worked with French and American editors, what are some of the differences you encounter?

[BC] J’ai travaillé avec plusieurs éditrices américaines, je les ai trouvées à chaque fois très enthousiastes et très très attentives à ce que le livre racontait et comment il le racontait. Je me suis quand même senti plus corrigé qu’en France, un peu moins libre, peut être parce que nous n’avons pas les mêmes codes culturels et qu’en amérique ils font très attention à ne contrarier personne. J’ai aussi eu l’impression qu’il fallait expliquer plus, faire un peu moins confiance à l’intelligence du lecteur.

[BC] I have worked with several female editors in the US, and I found them always enthusiastic and very attentive as to what the story was really saying and how it was being said. However, I did always feel more corrected than in France, a little less free, maybe because we don’t have the same cultural codes and in the US they are very careful not to upset anyone. I also felt I always needed to explain more — have less confidence in the reader’s intelligence.

[JM] The details in Une Chanson d’Ours/The Bear’s Song are amazing, did you know from the beginning this is how the illustrations would develop for this picture book?

l’Opéra

 

[BC] Oui au début j’avais fait une grande image sur l’Opéra pour un éditeur Français qui s’appelle “la maison est en carton” cette image était pleine de details et j’ai eu très envie de faire un livre avec de grandes images pleines de détails qui se passe à l’opéra, l’histoire du papa ours et de son petit ours est venue ensuite.

[BC] Yes, at the beginning I did a large drawing about The Opera for a French publisher, which is called “the house is made of cardboard”. This illustration was full of details at I really wanted to make a book with large pictures full of details which took place at the opera. The story of Papa Bear and his little bear was the result.

[JM] What art do you have on your apartment walls? 

[BC] Je n’ai rien sur les murs de ma maison, seulement des bibilothèques pleines de livres, mais j’ai beaucoup d’images sur les murs de mon atelier.

[BC] I don’t have anything on the walls in my home, only bookcases full of books, but I have lots of pictures on the walls of my studio.

Five Fun Ones to Finish                                                                                                         [JM] What is your favorite park in the world (state, national, local…)?

[BC] J’adore marcher tout le temps et partout, surtout dans les montagnes et au bord de la mer, j’aime beaucoup les calanques de Marseille et le cimetière du Père Lachaise à Paris.

[BC] I love walking, all the time and everywhere, above all in the mountains and along the seashore, I love the rocky inlets of Marseille and the Parisian cemetery, Père Lachaise.

[JM] Oh my gosh, when I lived in Nice, I went regularly with friends for the weekend to hike the Calanques. J’adore. What is your go to snack/drink when you are creating? 

[BC] Tous les matins avant d’aller travailler je m’installe une heure dans un café (au soleil si possible) je bois du café noir et je dessine n’importe quoi, tout ce qui me passe par la tête c’est mon exercise pour avoir de l’imagination Ensuite à mon atelier je ne fais que mettre au propre les idées que j’ai eues le matin.

[BC] Every morning before going to work I head to a café (in the sun if possible) and I drink a black coffee and sketch random stuff, anything than runs through my mind, it’s my exercise to keep my imagination flowing. Then in my studio, I formalise the ideas that I have had that morning.

[JM] You are French? What is your favorite BD? 

[BC] J’aime beaucoup la bande dessinée, j’en lis tout le temps, j’adore par dessus tout Calvin et Hobbes de Bill Watterson mais aussi Robert Crumb, Daniel Cloves, Christophe Blain ou Bluch…

[BC] I love comic books; I read them all the time. Above all, I adore Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson, but also the cartoonists Robert Crumb,Daniel Cloves,  Christophe Blain or Bluch…

[JM] Cats or dogs? 

[BC] J’ai deux chats qui sont très bêtes et très gentils et quand j’étais petit à la montagne j’étais toujours avec ma chienne, un Border Collie merveilleuse qui m’accompagnait partout même à l’école. J’aime beaucoup les animaux, ils me font rire et m’appaisent, j’essaie d’en mettre dans tous mes livres.

[BC] I have two cats who are very dumb but sweet and when I was little in the mountains I always had my dog with me, she was an amazing border collie, who went with me everywhere even to school. I love animals, they make me laugh and soothe me. I try and put some in all my books.


Tsiloumilou et Niavka

[JM] At what point in a picture book project do you consider the end pages?

[BC] Elles sont importantes car c’est par elles qu’on entre et qu’on sort du livre, elles doivent donner une ambiance mais ne rien raconter. J’essaie d’y penser depuis le début de la création mais c’est souvent vers la fin que j’ai une idée satisfaisante, car c’est à ce moment là que je sais ce qu’il y a vraiment dans le livre.

[BC] They are important because they are the entry into the book; they should convey an atmosphere but not not narrate anything. I try and think about them from the book’s inception but it is often near the end that I have a satisfactory idea, because it is at that moment I really know what is in the book.

 

 

 

Posted in children's books, Children's literature, Illustrators, Interview | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Hello Goodbye Dog – Perfect Picture Book Friday

Title: Hello Goodbye Dog

Author: Maria Gianferrari

Illustrator: Patrice Barton

 Publisher: Roaring Book Press, 2017

Ages: 5-8

Themes: therapy dogs, friendship with pets

 

 

Opening:

“Hello Moose!” said Zara.

There was nothing Moose loved more than hello.

Synopsis:

For Zara s dog, Moose, nothing is more important than being with her favorite girl. So when Zara has to go to school, WHOOSH, Moose escapes and rushes to her side.

Hello, Moose!

Unfortunately, dogs aren’t allowed at school and Moose has to go back home.

Goodbye, Moose.

But Moose can’t be held back for long. Through a series of escalating escapes, this loyal dog always finds her way back to Zara, and with a little bit of training and one great idea, the two friends find a way to be together all day long.

Why I like LOVE this book:

So much happiness. I grinned from ear to ear as this playful little-girl-loving pup continues to find ways to escape and follow his girl to school. Told from the dog’s POV, Moose is always super well behaved, especially when it comes to being read to. The shenanigans ensue only when it’s time for Moose to say goodbye and stay home. The mounting number of adults it takes to snag Moose to get him home only escalates the humor.

Poor Moose, looks like he’s gonna have to stay in his crate during the school day. But wait, Zara’s a smart cookie, and comes up with a plan to please dog and school alike! What a winning tale, and beautiful dog appropriate language like,

“Goodbye was an itch that couldn’t be scratched,” 

Patrice’s illustrations have all the ‘aw’ factor that the text has!

This is an adorable inclusive story of the unconditional love that dogs offer humans, with a lovely biracial family and little girl who gets around adeptly in her wheelchair.

Activities/resources:

There is an author’s note about the importance of therapy dogs with online resources
Librarydogs.com
Therapy Dogs International: tdi-dog.org

I would pair this with the nonfiction book, Toby and Tutter, Therapy Dogs.

Each week a group of bloggers reviews picture books we feel would make great educational reads. To help teachers, caregivers and parents, we have included resources and/or activities with each of our reviews. A complete list of the thousands of books we have reviewed can be found sorted alphabetically and by topics, here on Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

 

Posted in Diverse Children's Books, diversity, Perfect Picture Book Friday | Tagged , , | 7 Comments