I don’t think it would be too difficult to persuade many of you just how wonderful many, many picture books are. Typically they are works of art.
And by focusing on the art, we have a multitude of resources at hand to encourage and inspire kids with their own art. As a person who can’t really draw very well, I sympathize with those kids who also struggle and often feel inadequate when it comes to art.
Thus, when I find books that show me ways to be creative and expressive without (necessarily) having to draw, these are books I note and pass on.
I just finished reading My best friend is as sharp as a pencil by Hanoch Piven (823 P689M8 PIC BK) where the main character describes for her Grandmother her teachers, friends and even the school librarian. Jack, the best friend, is smart. He knows lots about geography, is as sharp as a pencil, curious as a magnifying glass and precise as a microscope. The objects shown in the illustrations (a globe, a pencil, a magnifying glass and microscope) become the pieces that construct Jack’s face in a simple collage (see the picture on the cover). “Is he a genius, or what?!”
I must admit my favorite depiction is of the librarian who “is as exciting as rubbing a magic lamp…as interesting as a book full of stories…When [reading]…her eyes shine like marbles…can be as funny as a clown or scary as a monster.”
Her smiling mouth is made from an open book and her eyes are two bright green marbles on book pockets and date due cards. Captures the spirit of the woman, for me, exactly!
Obviously, this would be a great choice if you need to a book that demonstrates simile or metaphor, too.
Another book I’d recommend for its collage style is a very clever retelling of Henny-Penny by Jane Wattenberg (398.245 WaHe 2000 PIC BK). These collages are constructed with overlapping photos of various birds (mostly of the fowl sort – ewwww, I know, bad pun) on backgrounds of well-known sites from around the world, including Stonehenge, the Egyptian pyramids, the Leaning Tower of Pisa , the Taj Mahal and so on. The language is full of action and frenzy as the panic about the falling sky must be told to the King without delay. The crazy puns and rolling rhyme are perfect for reading aloud.
Visual feasts to fill the mind and stir the creative spirit.