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In this day and age where there are fewer and fewer independent bookshops, some of the most exciting bricks-and-mortar places for discovering new children’s books are the shops in museums and art galleries.
Whilst they may not carry a huge range of stock, they often have quirky, unusual books which would never make it to the surface on the shelves in a highstreet chain bookshop. Two recent publications by Princeton Architectural Press are prime examples of the sort of books I mean: Alexander Calder and Pablo Picasso, both by Patricia Geis, are part of a stylish, new and playful Meet the Artist! series which I really like.
Alexander Calder contains a simple biography of the artist’s life and then focuses on several of Calder’s recurrent or particularly important themes or pieces. We learn about his love of making toys, his circus, wire sculptures, mobiles/stabiles and what my kids instantly recognised as what they call “junk modelling”, but which is here referred to as sculpture out of “found objects”. So far, so fairly normal for a non-fiction book about an artist.
But this book is not like your average artist biography because it is full of surprises. There is pop-up bunting, a length of metal chain to play with, press out card toy reproductions, flaps, string and cut-outs. This book is about really engaging with Calder’s art, not just looking at it, but doing it, and viewing it from all angles.
To describe this as a “novelty” book would be unfair, as that label often carries the connotations of cheap gimmickry. Here the physicality of the book engages the reader in a way that I think gives valuable insight into the artist: this book is playful and unconventional, just as Calder was.
The Pablo Picasso volume is equally design conscious, with short pieces of text and white expanses left around the crisp reproductions of Picasso’s art so that they really stand out. The pop-ups are not quite as successful in this volume; sculpture, inherently 3-D, is simply more exciting when it pops up off the page than a reproduction of a flat painting, even with clever use of stands and frames.
Whilst these books might not be favoured in public libraries, with all their moving and loose parts being unlikely to stand up to masses of (quite rightly) active reading, I love how they are a stepping stone to encouraging self-expression (“If a famous artist can sculpt with clothes pegs, then I can try that too!”) and through that, self confidence. Non-Fiction book aren’t just about learning facts!
Alexander Calder‘s Circus is one of his most famous pieces of art and so my girls decided to create their own version. First up M made some bunting out of paint chips. She folded them in half, and then cut out a triangle that she folded over a length of string and held in place with a glue dot.
For our circus artists we downloaded, printed and coloured this great circus set from Made by Joel and made further unusual attractions out of corks and jewellery wire (in the spirit of Calder’s wire sculptures and found objects sculptures).
Watch out for our terrifying circus lions!
Whilst making our circus and then playing with it we listened to:
Other activities you might be inspired to get up to having read the Alexander Calder Meet the Artist! book include:
A third book in the Meet the Artist! series is planned for the Autumn of 2014: Henri Matisse will be the subject of the new volume and I’m certainly looking forward to it.
. . . . . . . PEACHTREE BOOK BLOG TOUR Claude at the Circus By Alex T. Smith Peachtree Publishers 5 Stars . Back Cover: Meet Claude. He’s no ordinary dog—he leads an extraordinary life! When his owners leave for the countryside, Claude decides what adventure he will have. What will happen today? Opening: …Add a Comment
.. The Boy Who Swam with Piranhas by David Almond Oliver Jeffers, illustrator Candlewick Press 4 Stars Inside Jacket: Since all the jobs on the quayside disappeared, Stan’s Uncle Ernie has developed an extraordinary fascination with canning fish. Overnight, life at 69 Fish Quay Lane has turned barmy. But when Uncle Ernie’s madcap obsession takes …Add a Comment
5 Stars Meet Chanda. She is the catalyst for today’s review of Chained, a smart, well-written, and engrossing novel by Lynne Kelly. Chanda is a young girl bitten by fever mosquitoes and now carries a dangerously high temperature. She needs medical help now. With the help of a neighbor, Amma, her mother, takes Chanda to [...]Add a Comment
This was resized in my Studio for the MINIATURE / CIRCUS / CAROUSEL / LOVER.
Handmade in my studio. The Artwork is from an Antique print.
French Circus Carousel Miniature
• The expression image d'Épinal has become proverbial in French and refers to an emphatically traditionalist and naïve depiction of something, showing only its good aspects. Info sourcs- wikapedia
• Épinal prints were prints on popular subjects rendered in bright sharp colours, sold in France in the 19th Century. They owe their name to the fact that the first publisher of such images — Jean-Charles Pellerin — having been born in Épinal, named the printing house he founded in 1796
It took over 2 days for me to print, cut and assemble.
Each tiny Circus figure is carefully cut and assembled to the interior wheel.
• THe small one is 4-1/2"" High x 2" diameter base
• Working mechanical.
• The inner carousel rotates clockwise as the viewer turns the bead on the top.
• Each CIrcus performer is cut out separately and glued into place on the wheel that rotates.
• The center post is wood, the topper is a dimensional AB plastic crystal bead with the very top being a gold colored bead -all the rest of the Carousel is of cardstock paper.
• Reproduction of a paper toy.
• The coloring may vary from the original Antique print and shades shown here.
4 Stars Chasing Watermelons Kevin White Rex White 32 Pages Ages: 3 to 6 ……………… Press Release: When Duck opens a crate of watermelons for a watermelon feast, they begin to roll. Duck chases after them. One by one, Duck invites Goat, Pig, Chicken, and Cow to join the chase by promising, “If you help, [...]Add a Comment
3 Stars Autobiography of a Duck John Arnold 36 Pages Ages: 7 and up …………. Autobiography of a Duck is just that, the life of one Pekin Duck, not a chick, as told by the duck. Duck hatched and then lived with his siblings and his mother on a farm. Then one day, some humans [...]Add a Comment
Ich habe vor ein paar Tagen ein paar ältere Skizzen für ein Klappbilderbuch wiedergefunden, das leider bis heute nie verwirklicht wurde.
to be continued…
Classroom Connections is a series meant to introduce teachers to new books.
CHAINED - Lynne Kelly
Lynne Kelly has written a story that unwraps the heart and asks it to be brave, loyal, and above all, kind. Readers of all ages will worry for Hastin as he marks the wall that records his bondage to a cruel master, but they will ultimately celebrate his jubilant triumph. This story unwrapped my own heart. –Kathi Appelt, author of the Newbery Honor and New York Times bestseller THE UNDERNEATH