Fantastic Ficiton for Kids – Art

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fantastic_fiction_button Today’s Fantastic Fiction for Kids post comes courtesy of writer and artist Sallie Wolf. Her contribution today is extra special (apart from it being on a great topic) because I “met” Sallie as a result of the first ever Fantastic Fiction for Kids here on Playing by the book – Lynn from Chronicle of an Infant Bibliophile had selected one of Sallie’s books (Truck Stuck), and Sallie got in touch via the comments on that post. So now things have come full circle and Sallie is here with a wonderful list of book for us today, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy her contribution:
artists_helpers_frontcover_smallMy [Sallie’s] all time favorite picture book is called ARTISTS’ HELPERS ENJOY THE EVENINGS, written and illustrated by M.B. Goffstein, who is a fabulous illustrator. It’s a picture book in four chapters (a chapter picture book?), with a very wry sense of humor and beautifully designed pages. The characters are artist’s Conté crayons named Blanc, Noir, Gris, Bistre, and Sanguine. They live in Paris and enjoy their evenings. I wonder if this book would get published today, with its very subtle humor and lack of action or suspense. I fell in love with the simplicity of the drawings and the language and the love of art that shines through. [Book cover image courtesy of Sallie]
the_dot_frontcover
Another favorite is THE DOT, by Peter H. Reynolds. It is about Vashti, a young girl who feels she cannot draw. Her art teacher suggests she, “Just make a mark and see where it takes you.” And when Vashti stabs her paper with a dot, her teacher says, “Now sign it.” With humor and sensitivity, this book portrays Vashti’s journey to becoming an artist.
the_color_kittens_frontcover
THE COLOR KITTENS, by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Alice and Martin Provensen, is another classic, one of the original Golden Books, which is still in print. A pair of kittens learn to mix colors and paint their world. It would be a fun book to read and then experiment with mixing your own colors in watercolor paints.
art_frontcoverPatrick McDonnell, the creator of the Mutts comic strip, has written an ode to ART, a cute rhyming picture book about a young artist who’s name is Art. There are nods to HAROLD AND THE PURPLE CRAYON, which is another classic, not to be missed. I first discovered the principles of perspective in HAROLD AND THE PURPLE CRAYON. Have you forgotten the wonderful interplay between word and drawing in HAROLD AND THE PURPLE CRAYON, also present in ART? [Note from Zoe: my own review of Art by Patrick McDonnell is here]
arts_supplies_frontcoverWith another little boy named Art, ART’S SUPPLIES, written and illustrated by Chris Tougas, is a rambunctious exploration of various art materials, full of word play and visual and verbal puns and jokes.(“The markers all agreed that they FELT great.”) This book would inspire anyone to make a creative mess.

The six books above all have Art as a central theme. The following books have wonderful illustrations that qualify as fine art:

come_away_frontcover




John Burningham, COME AWAY FROM THE WATER SHIRLEY and many others. I love his scratchy mixed media techniques.
dinothesaurus_frontcoverAnything by Douglas Florian, a wonderful poet. I especially like the illustrations in his most recent books, DINOTHESAURUS; COMETS, STARS, THE MOON, AND MARS: SPACE POEMS AND PAINTINGS; and ZOO’S WHO. He has a wonderful website featuring his art, as well, http://www.douglasflorian.com/.
pauline_baynes_frontcoverPauline Baynes was the original illustrator of the Narnia series by C. S. Lewis. Her work inspired my own love of art.
the_robin_frontcoverAnd lastly I will mention my own book, THE ROBIN MAKES A LAUGHING SOUND: A BIRDER’S JOURNAL. Based on my personal observations of bird activity in my back yard and surroundings, this book is designed (by Micah Bornstein) to resemble a journal/sketchbook or scrapbook. All the drawings come from my journals and sketchbooks, drawn from life.

I’m sure you’ll agree with me Sallie has done us proud this this great list – lots of interesting and beautiful books to inspire us and the children we read, play and make art with!

Some musical inspiration that could run alongside these books includes:

  • Scribble by Jim Cosgrove
  • Paint it Black by The Rolling Stones
  • Paint a Picture by Frances England
  • I’ll write and I’ll draw by Woodie Guthrie
  • Crayon Man!!! by Roy Handy and the Moonshot
  • Artists Only by Talking Heads


  • As to suggestions for activities you might like to get up to with your kids, why not have a look for inspiration from these blogs:

  • The Artful Parent
  • Art Projects for Kids
  • Color Color Color


  • You might also like this list of Basic (And Not So Basic) Art Supplies and this Big List of Toddler Art Gift Ideas from The Crafty Crow

    If you’d like to look at some books that are all about illustrations and art in children’s books there’s a useful list here, at Afterthoughts (scroll down to the section titled “Books on children’s book art and its creators”). To Rebecca’s list I’d add Ways of Telling: Fourteen Interviews With Masters of the Art of the Picture Book by Leonard M. Marcus.

    My special *thanks* to Sallie for such a great list this week – do try to find time to enjoy looking around her website and her blog as there are lots of interesting and beautiful things there! And please let us know your favourite art-themed kids’ books and other resources (eg blogs) via the comments – I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

    5 Responses

    1. Andi

      “Ish” also by Peter H. Reyonolds, is an excellent book, especially for young artists who get frustrated when their drawings don’t look “right.”

    2. Lynn

      What a fantastic list. Almost all are new titles to us, and I look forward to checking them out. 🙂

    3. Peter H. Reynolds

      Thanks for the spotlight on my book, “The Dot.” And thank you, Andi, for the shout out for “Ish” which was designed to go hand-in-hand with “The Dot.” I am honored to be in the company the other wonderful titles on your list.

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