Two Picture Book Takes on Painting

I’m just not awake enough to come up with a snappy title for this post.

Today I’ll be writing about two more Georgia picture book nominees. The Iridescence of Birds: A Book About Henri Matisse written by Patricia MacLachlan and pictures by Hadley Hooper. And one called Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell and illustrated by Rafael López.

9781596439481“If you were a boy named Henri Matisse who lived in a dreary town in northern France, what would your life be like? Would it be full of color and art? Full of lines and dancing figures?” -from the publisher.

This is an undeniably gorgeous book. The committee that chooses these nominees never fails to pick excellently illustrated titles that combine words and pictures at the highest levels. It is a meditation on the creative spirit and for parents, on fostering that creative spirit.

But as a whole class read aloud? For me? It was a bit of a clunker. I mean it’s not bad. It’s lovely but just not engaging to the audiences I was presenting it to. So I’d read this one first and then read….

9780544357693“Mira lives in a gray and hopeless urban community until a muralist arrives and, along with his paints and brushes, brings color, joy, and togetherness to Mira and her neighbors”-from the publisher.

This one is based on a true story of a neighborhood in San Diego getting together to brighten the place up with colorful murals. So the idea of actually getting to paint on the walls of building combined with the photographs at the end showing people actually doing it knocked my students right out. I made clear before reading it that there is a difference in graffiti and murals and getting permission to do it being the main one. Luckily not too far from here a nearby town has had some boring highway dividers painted with colorful murals so they had an immediate connection.

So while the Henri Matisse book wasn’t their favorite, these did pair well together showing the different kinds of art a painter can do, inspiring many comments and questions which is always one of the best parts of reading aloud.