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Monday, November 24, 2014

Marvelous Monday Mazza

Nov. 7, 2014 was my first visit to the Mazza Museum in Findlay, Ohio.  What an amazing place, just an hour and a half from Fort Wayne, and I'd never been there.  I was so impressed with the museum and the Fall Conference.  Here was the line-up:
Friday, there was dinner at the museum and at 7 the Mazza Medallion was awarded to Peter Sis with autographing following.  All the artists were in attendance for the ceremony and autographing with a bonus artist, Will Hillenbrand with his new book, Snowman's Story at the autographing session.  He was doing an interview and article on Peter Sis.
from Snowman's Story by Will Hillenbrand

Then on Saturday we began with door prizes at 8:30 am - fun Mazza give-aways with lots of free books. Then Divya Srinivasan spoke about her artwork, her life and how she her journey has progressed.  She starts with a strong image in mind, she wants to tell a story, she wants to get a feeling across and a long standing tradition is making her sister laugh.  

She's had many different animation projects, apps, and other work and that's where her books have come from.
Gianna Marino spoke next and she shared about her shyness and how most of what she did as a child was try to not talk to people and bury herself in books.  She fell in love with horses and traveling and most of her young adult life was traveling around the world.  

When home in California for awhile she started working with a great writer's group and that's how her books have come about. There was a short break, then next up was Bagram Ibatoulline, he's originally from Russia, Siberia and he's been in the U. S. since 1981.  He's had vast experience and likes try so many different ways to paint.  He would get bored if he just stayed with one way.

After lunch, more autographing and door prizes we heard from Jen Corace and Ashley Bryan.  Each artist had something new to share about themselves, something similar to add, the artist muse, and a unique point of view.  From Peter Sis to Ashley Bryan it was a fascinating 24 hours that I'm still trying to take all in.  
Jen shared how she contemplates and thinks, how she has worked on her pencil line, then not wanted a pencil line.  She's worked on art shows to show her fine art, and done posters, album covers, and so much more.  She even invented a role-playing game with her brother.  Ashley Bryan has so much wisdom.  He gave us a poetry reading concert, talked about what he does in the classroom for kids, and simply awed us.  

I can't believe that before about a year ago I had never heard of Mazza.  And I will go back as often as I can.
Check out their website: Mazza Museum, and please try to go.  If you enjoy children's literature art or picture books at all, it's a must see.
I've put just one book for each artist that was featured that weekend. You can find out more from the Mazza website, here.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Friday Favorites

Julia's House for Lost Creatures by Ben Hatke is the debut picture book from a graphic novel/comic artist.  And the second debut picture book for this week, and....another winner! Julia's house rolls into to town and settles in.  (Well, not really roll, but, well you'll see what I mean.)  She puts out a sign to take in lost creatures and there you go, they start tromping their way to her house.  There is quite a menagerie of living and nonliving beings that take refuge at Julia's house.
The art was rendered in pen and ink and watercolors.  They are comic book like, clear, interesting, and full of action.  This story keeps the plot going along and it makes you want to turn the page and find out what is going to happen next.
I truly love that this story is open to any kind of beastie out there.  Julia doesn't seem to mind any of them.  I like how she learns to change as she needs to adapt to things and in that way it's a very friendly, open tale. There's no scariness, or harshness, just learning, growing, and changing to fit the needs of the house and characters.
I'll use this title with older, 4 to 5 year-old preschoolers to Second or Third graders.  I think it could be used for even older elementary students, in the right context.  I simply love this book!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thoughtful Thursday

With Books and Bricks: How Booker T. Washington Built a School by Suzanne Slade, pictures by Nicole Tadgell is a passionate and lovely story.  Beginning when Booker was still a slave, this biographical picture book follows the iconic teacher from the day he carried books and fell in love with the squiggles to going off to school to the trip to Alabama and building his own school. 
The art is rendered in pencil and watercolors.  It begins with mostly browns, grays, and blues and as the digging for clay starts, the colors start to open up and blossom.  With the building of Tuskegee the colors explode.  The words and art play off each other beautifully.  
Depending on the class or student, I'd use this with first or second grade and older.  What a marvelous picture book to pass along to teachers or parents for reports to encourage children in even the first grade to write and report on an inspirational person.  I look forward to sharing this book with children, parents and teachers.  The watercolors are exquisite, I love the loose quality and the colors used.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Wonderful Wednesday

Hooray for Hat! words and pictures by Brian Won is really about being grumpy.  Well, starting out grumpy and how a hat can make it all better. Well, really maybe it wasn't just the hat made it better, maybe it was getting a present made it better, the hat was the present. But another key ingredient is that elephant knew how to share.  He shared his hat with those he came across and his generosity made all the difference.
The art was digitally illustrated using real watercolor textures in Photoshop. Brian's process can be found, here. The animal's expression are made with a few lines, the shadows and texture are well done, and there is a great, free activity kit, here.
The activity kit encourages ways to make fun hats.  This is Brian Won's debut picture book and I expect to see more from him.  It's a great beginning.  This is such an upbeat story about friendship and sharing.
I used this title with Kindergarten students this week and they loved this story.  They were great at making connections and talking about expressions, feelings, and sharing.  

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Terrific Tuesday

The Big Splash! written by A. H. Benjamin, illustrated by Jon Lycett-Smith is a fun forest animal story. It features a rabbit, raccoon, beaver, skunk, fox, and a surprise animal.  There is repetition and suspense in the story with comical expression and expressive color in the art.  The art and story work so well together. I have liked or loved all of A. H. Benjamin's stories, but this is my first Jon Lycett-Smith illustration, they are both UK based so I'm not surprised that Lycett-Smith is new to me.
The illustrations are done using pen and ink which is then scanned and colored in Photoshop CS6.  I also love the shadowing done in the art, the end papers, and the big fold out page.
I've looked several places and this book is listed to start being read to 3 year-olds and I think that might be a year too young.  But I definitely would recommend it for Preschoolers to Second graders.  I can't wait to share it with students this week when I go to the school for stories.  They will love it! I will be using it in Storytime and recommending it to children and parents.  

Monday, November 17, 2014

Marvelous Monday

You Are Not My Friend, But I Miss You by Daniel Kirk is a learning to share book.  Sock Monkey thinks his friend doesn't know how to share very well, but then kinda works around to the idea that maybe he's the one that doesn't know how to share.  
The illustrations in this book were made with pen and ink, which were then scanned, and color and texture were added digitally. The flat ink and drawing against the incredible knit and material textures creates great depth.  The character development is right on.
I'll use this in Preschool Storytime and it will be a winner to use during Toddlerpalooza too. I'll use it with children from toddlers to Kindergarten.  It will be a terrific addition to 'sharing' books to recommend to parents and teachers.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Friday Favorites

Find Spot! by Stacey Previn is a colorful follow the dot or spot book.  At first you might think spot is the dog on the front, but no, the spot can be anything. From page to page the spot changes from morning to night, pursue spot and watch with allure to find out what spot will be next.
The illustrations for this book were done in acrylics on illustration board. Full of intensity and action, the colorful art springs from the pages, die-cuts add to the chase for spot.
This title will engage the toddler and preschool children.  As parents have their children find spot, they can also keep their child's interest with asking questions about the colors, what items they see, what is happening on each page, and they may be able to introduce a new vocabulary word or two.