Picture Books : Drawing & Painting & Messing Around!

In my years as teacher, mother, and daycare provider, I have not met a child that did not love to draw and paint. The nice thing about drawing is that they can do it anywhere; all they need is a pencil and a piece of paper (or a permanent marker and a wall—YIKES!)

Painting is quite a bit messier (except for that marker on the wall) and a lot more work—covering the table with paper, getting out the paint smocks or old t-shirts, brushes, & paints, and cleaning up everyone and EVERYTHING afterwards. But the kids loved it so much that it was worth all the work. Most of the time my only instructions were to use their imagination and to put the paint on their paper (not on their neighbor).

Below are some new books on art and artists—some messier than others, but all lots of fun for our little sketchers and painters and designers.

Artist and the KingThe Artist and the King by Julie Fortenberry. 9780979300035. 2014. Gr PK-2.

Some of us, especially as kids, might have drawn a mean picture of someone; and if we were unlucky, that person saw our picture. The little girl in this book was extremely unlucky, because she drew a mean picture of the KING—and he saw it, and he was angry. She had a little bit of luck, though, because her punishment could have been worse. The king told her she was no longer an artist, took away her artist beret, and made her wear a dunce cap. Looking for a silver lining in her cloud, she decided that the dunce cap wasn’t so bad, especially if she added a little piece of fabric here or a feather there. Suddenly everyone wanted her to make a hat. She was happy—until the king discovered the “mockery” that she made of his punishment.

Draw!Draw! by Raul Colon. 9781442494923. 2014. Gr PK-3.

As this wordless book begins, a boy lies in bed and reads a book about Africa. Picking up his drawing pad, he imagines himself going on an African safari with only his easel, drawing pad, and colored pencils. After drawing a nearby elephant, the friendly pachyderm becomes his tour guide, wandering the savannah in search of more subjects—zebras, lions, giraffes, and a cranky rhino. At the end of this lovely day, he says good-bye to the elephant and heads back home to his bed. The next day he brings his pictures to school for show-and-tell. Great art and a fun story will make this a hit.

Let's Paint!Let’s Paint! by Gabriel Alborozo. 9781743313695. 2014. Gr PK-1.

The narrator asks a boy, “Are you keen to paint pictures, but afraid of making mistakes?” before assuring him that “there are no mistakes in painting!” He explains that art has many sizes, styles, and subjects, that not all artists have the same temperament, and that the most important thing about art is to HAVE FUN! This would be a great book to read in elementary art class on the first day of school—or to reassure nervous artists at any time.

Louise Loves ArtLouise Loves Art by Kelly Light. 9780062248176. 2014. Gr K-2.

“So little time, so much to draw.” Louise is having an art show and needs inspiration for her masterpiece. Fortunately, her cat is a great model, and Louise is ecstatic over the portrait. So excited is she about her marvelous work that she fails to notice her little brother (named Art, of course), defiling her artwork with red crayon and scissors. But are her paintings and drawings worth more than Art’s feelings? A perfect portrayal of passions and sibling relationships.

Mix It Up!Mix It Up! by Herve Tullet. 9781452137353. 2014. Gr PK-1.

Herve Tullet comes up with another great interactive book for preschoolers and primary students, this one about mixing up colors. The book tells the reader to tap the gray blob of paint in the middle of the opening page. Each time the spot is tapped (and the pages turned), more and more colorful blobs of paint appear. Then the real fun begins! The reader is urged to rub the blue spot and then the yellow—and the spot turns green! After showing how to make purple and orange (and then playing around with this knowledge by shaking, tilting, and squishing the book), the next pages prompt the reader to see what happens when white (and then black) are added to colors. Finally, just like Alborozo in Let’s Paint! Tullet encourages his new artists to mix it up and HAVE FUN!

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