Friday: The Art Lesson

Now, i’ll admit…i’m a sucker for Tomie dePaola.  Strega Nona. Amazing. Big Anthony. Hilarious. But the artist in me must say that his little book, The Art Lesson is my all-time favorite.  It is the wonderfully autobiographical tale of Tomie’s own experience as a child artist and the differences between two art teachers. One who limits his creativity and the other who’s a little more bohemian, a little more willing to let him use all the colors in the 64 crayon set.  And as an art teacher now, I can truly appreciate the difference between Miss Landers and Miss Bowers. I think we’ve all had a Miss Landers and a Miss Bowers in our lives. And I hope, sincerely, that I am one who allows her students to express themselves independently and creatively – and, therefore, brings out the artist in each of them. So, here’s to Tomie…here’s to art…And here’s to using all 64 crayons

Friday: Art and Max

Never before have I seen a children’ s book that more articulately and beautifully captures the artistic spirit than David Wiesner’s “Art and Max.” It should come as no surprise that Wiesner has come up with yet another gem of a book – he is one of two people to have ever won the Caldecott for three different books (“Tuesday”, “The Three Pigs” and “Flotsam) – all of which are worth buying and immediately loving.) What sets “Art and Max” apart from the others, though, is that it truly challenges readers big and small to think about the creative process of artists and appreciate the different ways and methods in which art can be made. Lofty subjects for young readers, but Wiesner makes them come to life magically. Art and Max are two lizards. Art is a serious artist – one who studies form and shading and lines. Max just wants to be an artist and, despite Art’s instruction, moves ahead with his own way of creating and we find that both can be beautiful. I really can’t recommend this book more highly – it’s a masterpiece in its own right.