A patron emailed me looking for books to use in a class she is teaching called "Books and Art" for four and five year olds. Amazing! She was looking for picturebooks to use as read-alouds to inspire the chidlers' projects - specfically books about creating art or using colour.
In an ideal world, I would have taken five days to answer this and sent her an annotated list of 100 books. Then I would have gone home to read a new book by James Mashall In reality, I had about 20 minutes and I went home to eat some Pilsbury Easter cookies I got for 35% off. I thought it might be fun to share what I came up with.
Keep in mind that I was limited by what is in my library's collection (we're not super teensy, but we're not huge either. We serve about 33,000 people and are the only library in town). Because I was short on time, I relied on my own knowledge but discovered 2 or 3 of the titles while browsing - yay for serendipity! I also wanted to include some Canadian titles because I'm pretty gung-ho about promoting Canadian books. I know I'm probably missing a buncha titles, so please feel free to leave more suggestions in the Comments.
Also, sorry that the books aren't in any kind of order. They were originally organized according to what was in and what was on loan at my library. I also don't have the authors and illustrators listed (where applicable) because we catalogue our picturebooks by author. The annotations are the same ones I included in my response to the patron.
Picturebooks With an Art Theme for Reading Aloud to 4/5 Year Olds
The Incredible Painting of Felix Clousseau – John Agee
A classic story about an artist who paints animals..that come to life!
I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More – Karen Beaumont
An artistic take on the song “It Ain’t Gonna Rain No More.” A boy who gets in trouble for painting on the walls takes matters into his own hands and paints his whole body!
White is For Blueberry – George Shannon
A concept book that explores the not-so-obvious colours of familiar things – the black centre of a poppy, the green top of a turnip, and the purple hue of shadows on the snow.
I’m the Best Artist in the Ocean – Kevin Sherry
A big, bright, hilarious story about a giant squid who loves to paint.
My Many Colored Days – Dr. Seuss
A very sensitive offering from Seuss about the connotations of different colours.
The Party – Barbara Reid
While not about art, this book is noteworthy because the illustrations are done entirely in plasticine. Reid is internationally known for her work with plasticine and has many, many stellar books.
The Dot – Peter H. Reynolds
Vashti hates making art but learns that even a random dot of ink can bring inspiration.
Draw Me a Star – Eric Carle
This is essentially a creation story about an artist who draws the world – starting with a single star. There are directions at the end showing children how to draw the stars in the book.
Augustine – Melanie Watt
Augustine is a penguin who idolizes famous artists. When she moves to a new school, her art helps her overcome her shyness.
The Imaginary Garden – Andrew Larsen. Illustrations by Irene Luxbacher
This book actually includes painting lessons within the story. After a young girl’s grandfather has to leave his beautiful home garden to relocate to an apartment, the pair find an artistic solution by painting a garden on a giant canvas. The text might be a little long for a read-aloud for 4s and 5s, but it is really worth checking out.
Art and Max – David Wiesner
A perfect story for beginning artists with stunning, semi-surreal artwork about two reptilian friends.
Harold and the Purple Crayon – Crockett Johnson
A classic. Harold steps into his own drawings and has all sorts of adventures.
Dog’s Colourful Day – Emma Dodd
A simple, engaging story about a white dog who gets into a rainbow of messes after his daily walk. Any of Emma Dodd’s books are fantastic for this age group.
The Black Book of Colors – Menena Cottin
A completely one-of-a-kind book done all in black. Different colours are described with words and with textured pages. It gives very young children a sense of what it would be like to see the world without sight and to essentially “feel” different colours.
I got a very lovely thank-you email from the patron after she received the list saying how inspired she is now. Can't ask for anything more! (plus, 4/14 Canadian books ain't bad!)
During the last ten minutes of my shift, I always like to walk through the Children's area to make sure all is right with the world (and that no icky book has somehow ended up on display).
Tonight I had a horrible realization. We don't have Alice in Rapture, Sort Of !!!
If I could fire myself, I would. In my defense I've only been at this job for five months. But still. STILL.
Part of Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's epic Alice series, Alice in Rapture, Sort Of is one of my top ten favourite books of all time. Actually, probably top five. I LOVED it is a kid and I still LOVE it. I love it with a passion that makes me weepy. No other book so perfectly captures middle grade romance. My stomach gurgles just thinking of it. From the Lift Up Spandex Ahhh-Bra to Alice's cute new bikini to the country club date with Patrick. There's nothing better! I still haven't finished the series because I can't bear for it to be over. And I can't stand the thought that Alice might not end up with Patrick! (don't put spoilers in the comment field or I'll cut you)
Well, I busted on over to Amazon to get the ISBN to order it from ULS and saw that most of the Alice books have had a makeover. A seriously dern CUTE makeover. Now, the series has had several incarnations but I think this is the best yet. Here's Alice how I knew her in the 1990s:
And here she is now:
Here's another version. I'm not crazy about photos of kids on covers but these kids are pretty legit:
And another. Quite vague and stock photo-y:
But I do have to say that I think this newest look is the best. Here are some of the other titles all spiffed up:
I think there is something delightfully vintage about these covers and I like that Alice actually looks her age. But does this look too vintage? Are my 1950s/early 1960s tastes atypical? I think real live 9-11 year olds might be into this - it's sort of reminscent of Charice Mericle Harper's Just Grace books but less cartoony.
I do think that the images could have incorporated a bit more humour. Alice is a klutz and is quite funny, and she looks quite sweet and a wee bit saccharine here. But overall, I think I'm sold.
I'm rarely happy with cover makeovers as I form pretty intense attachments to the originals. But I can't wait to re-read the new beuts on Capri Island this summer when they are released in early May.