Monday, June 3, 2013

Great books inspire art lesson plans

Today, sorting through a bookshelf, I came across a few quirky old favorites that I thought could be motivators for some wonderfully creative art lesson ideas. (When my son was young, we loved finding truly original children's books, and while he is now an adult, we still have them all and I would not dream of getting rid of any of them.) While these are not art books per say, they each have wonderful possibilities for inspiring great lessons, and some of them are books that you have probably never seen:
First, June 29, 1999, by the amazing David Weisner.  You may know of him from one of his other books: Art and Max, or perhaps Tuesday (a totally charming book with frogs that suddenly lift off and go whizzing through the sky), or others.  But this book, which features giant vegetables floating down from the sky and a surprise twist ending, is a real treasure.   Oops, here comes the ending:
 By the way - formatting today is weird, so I'm leaving it 'as is', which means this post may look a little odd.  Sorry!  Now back to books...
You've probably never seen this adorable book, The Hour of the Frog, which I discovered in a long-gone1/2 price bookstore .  I have never seen this book anywhere else.  It features a trouble-making  frog that sneaks into a house every night through a slimy hole in the wall and wreaks havoc, and was a family favorite.
A scene from the book:

My son, my husband, and I were all enamored with the brilliant stories and fabulous illustrations in the books of Bill Peet. I picked two to feature here - one about a dragon (of course): 

How Droofus the Dragon Lost His Head  and also
The Wump World, an environmental warning, similar in spirit to Dr. Seuss's The Lorax.  But there are so many more to choose from.

And who can resist a story about a mean pirate?  In One-Eyed Jake, the pirate certainly gets what he deserves in the end!  The story is cute, and the illustrations are fabulous. 
This book below, Wipe Your Feet, was another find at that 1/2 price bookstore.  The story is simple: a woman buys a painting of animals and hangs it in her house.  When she comes home the next day, she finds animal footprints all over the house.  The next day, she sneaks home and catches the animals wandering the house, scurrying to get back into their places in the painting.  She strikes a deal with the animals, allowing them to leave the painting as long as they wipe their feet.  The animals return to a different place in the painting each day, creating an ever-changing work of art!  This book could inspire some really fun lessons, I think, maybe combining printmaking for the footprints with animals made perhaps with collage or paint.

There's No Such Thing as a Dragon is another cute little dragon book:
Planning to teach kids to make pop-up books?  Check out Small Talk.  The pop-ups are really charming.  The author has other clever pop-up books as well.

One of my personal all-time favorite books: Harvey Potter's Balloon Farm.
This book is simply magical and if you've never seen it, you are missing a delight.

Other favorites?  Maurice Sendak's The Night Kitchen (yes, I like it better than the Where the Wild Things Are), and so many other classic children's books, but this post was definitely about the more obscure choices.  Have you seen or used any of the books I have featured above?  What are your favorite oddball picks?


  1. That is so funny. I was just reading June 29th 1999 last week. I have been brainstorming art lesson ideas on that book.

    1. Ooh I hope we get to see what you do! It could go with a surrealism lesson - what could fall from the sky and why? Juxtaposition out-of-context sizes.

    2. I haven't done the lesson yet. I was hoping to do something with it this week, but it was too ambitious for the last week of school. (Too many kids doing picnics and field day). So, this art lesson will have to wait unit next school year. I love the idea of juxtaposition out-of-context sizes. I may just do something with that.

  2. I've used Balloon Farm, too -- love it?? Speaking of lovin' are you happy with Bloglovin'? I have to make a choice between that and Feedly pretty soon now!!

    1. Ooops -- I meant !!! after the "love it"!!

    2. I haven't tried feedly yet and the jury is still out on bloglovin'. I can't figure out how to do a search of the particular blogs I follow for a certain topic. Even though I didn't use it too often, I liked in Google reader how you could search a topic among the blogs you follow and mark certain posts to come back to. I can't find a way to narrow the search like that on bloglovin' - it seems to search every blog in the universe, I swear.

  3. Had to smile when I saw the Jan Pienkowski book! My kids used to love that and so did I. Thanks for the throw back.