Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Book Week in Australia

It is the Children's Book Council of Australia Annual Book Week! Lots of events going on - I have already visited a fabulous bookshop, a new (to me) local online bookshop, a school book fair and am looking forward to kinder duty later in the week with a 'come as your favourite book character' theme!

The books in the photos below were purchased at Books Illustrated, a beautiful Melbourne bookshop in Middle Park. I did buy most of them as presents for my kids' birthdays - I hope I can keep them hidden for that long ...

As you can see, a couple of them were signed by the author or illustrator, which always makes a book feel more personal to me.

Books Illustrated was open to the public last Saturday for National Bookshop Day. Usually, they are open by appointment only, as they focus now on travelling exhibitions. They specialise in Australian children's books, and are a wonderful showcase for picture book illustrations - you can buy many original and limited illustrations there. Lots of wonderful stories, beautiful illustrations - and I was met at the door by two dogs and offered a cup of tea (not by the dogs!) - what more can you ask for in a bookshop?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Alphabet Glue and Monet

I recently came across an art and literature magazine for kids - via BIG Kids magazine - which just made my heart sing! Alphabet Glue is created by Annie Riechmann, of Bird and Little Bird blog. It's an affordable, downloadable magazine which you can print out - there are two issues available now. We made three activities within three days of reading them!

Alphabet Glue includes suggested reading lists for kids, print-outs for library catalogue cards, bookmarks, reading records and story cards, as well as instructions for book-making projects and detective activities.

Our story lanterns were based on Laurence Anholt's "The Magical Garden of Claude Monet". We loved the idea of a circular studio room. Monet tells Julie, his young visitor that he is trying to paint the most enormous water garden in the world. When you stand in the middle, you will feel as if you have dived into a pool. 

There is factual information about Monet at the end of the book. Annalise's favourite page - below - opens out to present Monet's pond. The brush marks glowed like flowers in a garden. This picture book is quite long - more for younger primary school students than kinder kids - you might need to turn it into a "chapter" book and read it in two or three sections for small ones.

Laurence Anholt has written a series about famous artists and his books tell a lovely story, while giving seemingly incidental snippets about the artists. Anholt illustrated all of these artist books - imagine being able to imitate the artistic style of not only Monet but Picasso, van Gogh, Degas and Matisse as well!

Tom used a jungle theme for his lantern, Annalise a garden. Annie's instructions were simple to follow, and the kids feel really proud of their lanterns, especially as we leave them on the table and light them for dinner.

Thinking these might make fabulous Christmas gifts for those special grandparents and teachers ...

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Zoo art

Sometimes literature and art just need to be simple. Less is best. "My heart is like a zoo" is one of Joe's favourite books. One of his party tricks is to imitate all the animal noises - such a rite of passage for a two-year-old!

The short amount of text on each page is just enough to hold his attention. The similes are unique and imaginative - rugged as a moose or bothered as a bull with a hornet in its hair or peaceful as a portly walrus lounging on a towel.

The illustrations are made of heart shapes - Michael Hall used hundred of hearts to create his zoo animals. The last page is gorgeous - one of those "a-ha" moments for adult and child readers alike. Won't spoil it for you! Annalise just had to have a go at creating her own heart collages.

I traced around our set of heart-shaped biscuit cutters on construction paper, cut them out and then Annalise glued them on scrap paper.

I'm not sure that her animals are anatomically correct - they are her "made-up animals, you know" but they're as wonderfully bright as Michael Hall's animals.

More zoo books here and here.