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Art and Design enables children to find new ways of expressing themselves and understanding the world. The self-expression and the creativity required for the creative arts are what make us distinctively human. Here is a selection of books on art or featuring artists we love.
The first novel from the lockdown #drawwithrob hero for schools and families everywhere, is an absolute triumph. The first in what is sure to become a best selling and popular series introduces us to the amazing Peanut Jones. Her artist father has gone missing, and her own love of drawing is being stifled in her new school and not valued by her mother. The discovery of a magic pencil, that literally brings drawings to life, enables her to draw a door and step through into another world, where she hopes she may be able to find her father. Peanut is aided and accompanied by her new science-loving friend, Rockwell, and her genius younger sibling, Little Bit. Together they face many dangers as they travel through the land of Chroma, not least the villainous Mr. White, who wants to extinguish all colour and creativity. Chroma is a superbly imagined world and each district and many of the vivid characters have a distinctly artistic flavour – The Ink District, Warholia, Vincent Fields etc. Little Tail the magic pencil is also known Pencil Number One, the very first pencil created by inventor Nicolas-Jaques Conte. There is actually a glossary at the end of the book to give readers a mini education in Art History and ensure they can appreciate all the references- very useful for parents and teachers! This is a book suffused with the joy of art, by an artist and for budding artists everywhere, but most of all it is a hugely enjoyable, witty and exciting story that will captivate readers of all ages. Highly recommended.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month August 2021 | An inspiring and original book which encourages all readers to think like an artist and to think what it might be like to be an artist. Fittingly, through very visually creative illustrations and only a brief text, John introduces himself as an artist and then describes what that means. He thinks big about art as he looks at how art may be defined, the many different forms in which it may be created, where ideas for creating it can come from and simply but very perceptively, how difficult it can be to create. A book to inspire and savour.
This lushly illustrated, full colour activity book is packed withfacts about every inch of this Sceptred Isle, and a kaleidoscope of 50 activities including colouring, puzzles, quizzes, and more. Bite-sized information and awesome facts about the UK are scattered throughout, with 50 fun activities to get stuck into.
With very few words and the power of a few scraps of coloured paper, this is a story of acceptance and friendship - and a fantastic first introduction to colour-blending abstract art. A true classic from four-time Caldecott Honor winner Leo Lionni first published in 1959 with a message that will resonate with children today as strongly as it did then.
Written and illustrated by award-winning artist and current affairs specialist George Butler, Drawn Across Borders is a unique empathy-inspiring portrayal of the affecting personal experiences of twelve migrants, covering countries as diverse as Tajikistan, Myanmar, Kenya, Syria and Palestine. It’s an honest, awe-inspiring tribute to the featured individuals, a testament to the strength of the human spirit, and a timely reminder that real people lie behind every news story on migrants. Real people with real (and varied) reasons for leaving places they once called home. Butler frames the book with brilliant clarity: “People move around the world for many reasons. Some migration is voluntary; most is not.” The written portraits are deeply personal, framed by the author’s experiences on the frontlines of - for example - refugee camps, and based on his conversations with migrants. When combined with the accompanying painterly illustrations, they create a book that draws the heart and eye to a clutch of stories that should be known. Recommended for readers aged 11 upwards who have an interest in current affairs and history (adults included), this would also make a valuable springboard for discussing migration and global politics in a classroom context. The LoveReading LitFest invited George to the festival to talk about Drawn Across Borders. You can view the event by subscribing to the LitFest programme for as little as £6 per month - or you can pay per view. For just £2, go, see George in conversation with Paul Blezard and find out why everyone should read this book. Check out a preview of the event here
Casting Mona Lisa as a self-important, been there, done that, bought-the-t-shirt-in-the- museum-gift-shop character (“She loved the attention! She loved the crowds…I know everything and everyone knows me”), Yevgenia Nayberg’s Mona Lisa in New York presents a playful, strikingly-illustrated picture book ode to New York’s distinctive wonders through its unique, irreverent take on a 500-year-old enigma. After journeying across the ocean “so people far away could also admire her beauty”, and being marvelled at by crowds in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Mona Lisa is in for a shock when she decides to wander the city alone at night and gets lost. No problem, she thinks. Everyone knows who I am. Except they don’t. In fact, “No one paid any attention to her.” Thankfully, she encounters Tag, a graffiti art character from Brooklyn. While Mona Lisa is loath to accept that she’s the same as Tag, and while she initially insists that she knows everything, Tag kindly takes her hand and shows her NYC in all its kaleidoscopic glory - they listen to jazz in Harlem, eat pizza in the Bronx, salsa dance on the High Line, and swim on Brighton Beach. “Turns out there’s so much I didn’t know,” she admits when they part. It also turns out that New York has captured Mona Lisa’s heart. Great for introducing little ones to New York, this will also make an excellent springboard for talking about art and culture in all their forms.
An unknown painter has the temerity to enter the Grand Contest of Art. At first scorned for the simple realism of his styleand subject matter (not a portrait of the King!) he is crowned the winner when his Duck actually quacks. An overnight sensation, his paintings were in high demand until the realism became a little too real with volcanos erupting, waterfalls gushing over the carpet and a boa constrictor attacking its rich owner in the bath. Clousseau is thrown into jail and all his paintings confiscated except for the one of a guard dog on display in the palace. One night the dog captures a thief before he could steal the crown. Clousseau is a hero again and he “returns to his painting” – the double meaning of which will absolutely delight young readers when they see the final image. Full of his trademark wit (I love the renowned artist’s names: Gaston du Stroganoff, Felicien CaffayOllay and Alphonse LeCamembair) and becoming New York Times Book Review Notable Children's Book of the Year when it was first published in 1988. Once again we are very grateful to Scallywag Press for the first UK publication of this brilliant tale which is on the one hand an absurd and funny tale, but on the other can prompt discussion about art and who decides what is good art, the fickle nature of public opinion and the effects of fame(or notoriety). Fully deserving of its classic status in the US, I am quite sure that this will be highly valued in schools here too.
Take one box – a cereal box for example – and this craft ideas book, and get creating! Thanks to a set of recycled plastic corners just right for joining up card (and neatly contained in a storage compartment) with clear, easy to follow instructions, kids will be able to transform the box into any one of 20 different toys. Once they have got to grips with the easier creations including a dinosaur, a rocket and a fabulous looking car they can challenge themselves with the trickier space helmet or unicorn mask. Like all the best ideas it’s really simple, really effective and likely to be just the start of more creative activity. The JUNKO ethos is all about reuse and being eco-friendly. The Epic Cereal Box Creations is a brilliantly clever concept, turning household waste and packaging into toys: even those plastic corners are made from recycled plastic! Not only is it fun, it’s a great way to build those all-important STEAM skills too. Who needs plastic toys when you can have fun and make your own out of cardboard? Purchase Epic Cereal Box Creations directly from the Junko website here!
How many adventures will be started by this quirky activity book? With all of us currently spending more time in our homes than we ever expected, it’s perfect for now, full not only of interesting facts about our houses and furniture (from information on the first bed to Le Corbusier’s ideas), but also with activity ideas inspired by the place where we live. These range from making architectural plans to designing a chair (with a nod to Bauhaus), to creating a board game à la Cluedo. Attractively designed, fun and fact-filled, this will expand the walls of your home and make it a place of quiet adventure for children – perfect.
Explore the world of dinosaurs with your magic three colour lens | Even the most expert, hardest to impress young palaeontologist will be awe-struck by this book, which gives the closest experience within printed pages yet to walking amongst dinosaurs. Huge double-pages take readers around the globe and back through time to when dinosaurs roamed the planet. Look at the brightly coloured pages through the special lenses provided and 3D scenes spring into life. A red lens reveals the ‘terrible lizards’ that would have lived in each location, from America’s ‘A listers’, the T Rex, Triceratops, Brachiosaurus, to lesser known but equally impressive giants such as Africa’s Massospondylus. A green lens brings the locations into focus while looking through the blue lens uncovers the plants and pre-historic animals that lived alongside the dinosaurs. Each of the Observation Decks, as the 3D pages are called, are followed by fact-filled pages of black and white diagrams and text. Innovative, engaging and information-packed, it’s an eye-opening journey of discovery.
October 2020 Debut of the Month | What a roar-some romp this is! With its read-along rhymes, fun flaps to lift and energetic animals, toddlers will adore grrr-ing, snapping, ooo-ing, hissing and ROARING their way through this jamboree of jungle dwellers. It’s a joy to read aloud, ideally with exuberant accompaniment from little animal lovers. The rhythmic, rhyming text invites readers to engage with larger-than-life animals in their natural habitats - a tiger hiding in tall bamboo, a crocodile lurking in a lilypond, a snake slithering through leaves, a monkey curled in a tree, a lion prowling a plain - while sharing information about their physical characteristics and - of course - the sounds they make. It’s a beautiful book to behold, too - Katerina Kerouli’s style is both bold and understated. Her palette has an elegant mid-century feel, and her animals are oh-so chicly expressive.