Perfect Picture Book Friday is Going Places!

When I was a child, my father brought home a box of Legos. The set held a handful of teeny-tiny plastic bricks, medium bricks, and others that were long, fat, and flat. The instruction booklet showed pictures for possible things the set could build. My sister made a tall, thin house with a steep roof. I built a short house with a flat roof. My Dad built a little plane. After we played with the toys we made, we snapped apart the bricks and saw what else we could build, using only our imaginations to guide us.

Flash forward: I’m married and have a daughter who has received an amazing Lego ship set for her seventh birthday. Her smile is bigger than a crescent moon. She lays out the instructions and stacks the Lego pieces into organized piles. For the next two hours, she builds that ship and sets it adrift in the middle of our coffee table. With a stern face, she instructs her dad and me NOT to touch it, NOT to play with it, and NOT to use the coffee table as she has repurposed it into a museum-grade, display table for her masterpiece.

YEARS have passed. The ship eventually sailed down to the basement where it is resting in drydock with other forgotten toys because…

there was nothing else the instructions said the Lego set could build but a ship.

Taking what we are given and seeing what other possibilities exist is the theme for today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday review.

Title – Going Places – view on Amazon HERE.

Written by – Peter and Paul Reynolds

Illustrated by – Peter Reynolds

Published by – Scholastic Inc. – 2014

Suitable for ages – 3-7

Topics/Theme –  Thinking outside the box (literally).

Opening – Rafael had been waiting all year long for the Going Places contest, a chance to build a go-cart, race it…and win.

When their teacher announced, “Who would like the first kit?” Rafael’s hand shot up.

Why do I like this book? Going Places shows us that some people will see the picture on a kit and follow the instructions EXACTLY, while other kids will say, “That’s nice, but what else can I build?” Peter and Paul Reynolds have created a brilliant story that inspires and encourages everyone, no matter their age, to look waaay outside the box and fly!

Learn more about Peter and Paul Reynolds HERE.

Until next Friday!

Creating “Ish” Art for Perfect Picture Book Friday.

Perfect Picture Book Friday (PPBF) Looks at Creating “Ish” Art.

Creating art as a child should be fun. After all, children are discovering the world and interpreting the many marvels around them with a box of crayons, a small paint pallet, a stubby brush, and a pad of paper. Yes, this blissful childhood experience should be freeing, but for me, it was stressful. My mother was an artist for the Field Museum in Chicago. Because of her years of education in botany and scientific illustration in Germany, she never looked at my artistic endeavors through the eyes of a mom armed with a magnet and free space on the fridge, but rather through her analytical eyes and vast knowledge of the scientific world.

She once held my picture of a grassy meadow sprinkled with flowers, two trees, one bunny, and a bright yellow ball of sunshine and gave it a sideways glance. I could see the gears turning in her head as I awaited, not praise, but her criticism.

“Leslie.” She wrinkled her brow at my masterpiece. “If the sun is just above the horizon, as you’ve drawn it, then the shadows must be longer. And if this is a picture of a field around our house, you would never see a Crocustommasinianus growing in the same season with an Iris Reticulata.”

“Really?”

Eventually, I learned to throw myself over my drawings whenever my mom came into view. “It’s not done yet,” I’d blurt. Mom would head out to tend the garden while I finished my drawing and stashed it away before she returned.

The book I’m reviewing today (Ish by Peter H. Reynolds) looks at art in a unique way. I can’t tell you how often I’ve read this marvelous, little treasure. Maybe I return to it often because I wish I owned it when I was a child. I have a feeling I wouldn’t have looked at my art as being “not right” but rather as being marvelously ish.

Title – Ish

Written and illustrated by  – Peter H. Reynolds

Published by – Candlewick Press – 2004

Suitable for ages – 3-8

Theme – One person’s viewpoint isn’t always right. Being true to one’s self, exploration, and creativity.

Opening –

Raymond loved to draw. Anytime. Anything. Anywhere.

One day, Ramon was drawing a vase of flowers. His brother, Leon, leaned over his shoulder. Leon burst out laughing. “WHAT is THAT?” he asked.

Amazon Review –  View it HERE.  A creative spirit learns that thinking “ish-ly” is far more wonderful than “getting it right” in this gentle new fable from the creator of the award-winning picture book THE DOT.

Ramon loved to draw. Anytime. Anything. Anywhere.

Drawing is what Ramon does. It¹s what makes him happy. But in one split second, all that changes. A single reckless remark by Ramon’s older brother, Leon, turns Ramon’s carefree sketches into joyless struggles. Luckily for Ramon, though, his little sister, Marisol, sees the world differently. She opens his eyes to something a lot more valuable than getting things just “right.” Combining the spareness of fable with the potency of parable, Peter Reynolds shines a bright beam of light on the need to kindle and tend our creative flames with care.

Why do I like this book? Most obviously, because I would have loved to label my art as being “ish” when I was a child. I believe the term frees up the inner artist and gives permission to play. Peter Reynolds inspiring story teamed with his simple and emotion-packed illustrations tells a necessary story the artist in all of us can cling to. One of my favorite pages shows labeled art from Raymond’s journal with such descriptive titles as tree-ish, house-ish, afternoon-ish, and fish-ish. To me, this book is the best-ish, most perfect-ish picture book to read to budding, young artists.

Learn more about Peter H. Reynolds HERE.

Art idea – After reading ISH, encourage children to draw “ishly”. Set out a table full of art supplies, and let them freely interpret their world. Art supplies to include are colored pencils, colored paper, crayons, scissors, glue, pipe cleaners, paper plates, markers, yarn, beads, tissue paper, and more.

Find more “Perfect Picture Book Friday” reviews at Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog HERE.

What are your childhood memories of the art you created?