Messy Monday + a book review: Ready to Dream by Donna Jo Napoli and Elena Furrow

I was inspired by Stephanie’s post way back last month about the Hearts & Trees online magazine, which I promptly purchased (for only $3–a steal!), and then didn’t have time to implement.  A couple of Fridays ago I finally made time to pull out the paints and teach the girls about primary, secondary, and tertiary colors using the information and instructions from the magazine.  This was quite a hit, of course!

I really like to make art with the girls, but lately it’s all I can do to keep the DLM making his own mess art.  He woke up from his nap just in time to really want to get involved in this activity.  :-)

All children are artists.  The problem is to remain an artist once he grows up.  –Pablo Picasso

Serendipitously, we had read a wonderful picture book, Ready to Dream by Donna Jo Napoli and Elena Furrow, just the day before.  It’s the story of a little girl named Ally who goes with her mom to Australia to visit.  Ally is an artist, so she travels to Australia with a heart full of anticipation and a backpack full of art supplies.  The first person she meets is an Aborigininal woman, Pauline, to whom she shows the picture she drew on the plane.  This woman, an artist herself, becomes Ally’s friend and mentor, the person to whom Ally reports with her newest piece of art, created as she and her mom explore the continent.  Pauline encourages Ally in her art, for each time Ally points out something a little off in her art, and Pauline helps her readjust her vision to see it as an opportunity or something that makes the art special or more accurate.  Here’s a sampling of one of their conversations:

When Ally returned, Pauline was leaning against a wall, looking out over the desert.  “I saw fairy penguins and a duck-billed platypus and koalas. See my koala?”

Pauline petted the koala.  “No accidents this time?”

“No, but my painting keeps curling.”

Pauline put her hands to Ally’s cheeks.

“Koalas dream in warm balls in the crooks of trees.  Let it curl.”

Ally let go of the corners, and the bark curled up in her hands.  Was this koala sleeping?

I love this!  I have one daughter who thinks in pictures and who really, really enjoys drawing.  The other is no less artistic, only her creativity is often expressed in different ways.  Creativity in this vein is not something that comes naturally to me, but I so want to encourage it in my children.  Ready to Dream is a picture book that emphasizes the wonder of creating, and it really helped remind me of the importance of viewing creativity as a process.  Additionally, this would make a great story to supplement a study of Australia since Ally and her mother visit so many different places in Australia.  Bronwyn Bancroft‘s paintings in this book are bold and colorful and folk-art-like.  (See samples here.) I give this book a Highly Recommended.  (Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2009)

Favorite Resource This WeekI’m linking this post up at learning ALL the time as my favorite resource this week.  Both the Hearts & Trees magazine and the picture book Ready to Dream earn this designation!

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