Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Art of Picture Books: Terrific visit with Lisa Brown (ages 7-10)

Did you know picture books are not just for little kids? Do you love picture books with all your heart? My students and I do--they make us smile, they make us want to share books with friends, and they draw us into reading them again and again.

Last week we had a terrific visit with artist & author Lisa Brown. Our kids were fascinated with the books she shared--hers and many other favorites--and had so many questions for her. If you have the opportunity for an author visit, I highly recommend bringing Lisa to your school.
Lisa Brown at Emerson
All month, we've been talking about noticing details in picture books, especially around characters. Our 3rd and 4th graders have been identifying how characters feel, and then explaining the details that they notice to support their ideas. In art class our students have been drawing cartoon figures with different expressions, putting into action what they've been noticing in their reading.

Just look at this detail from Molly Bang's When Sophie Gets Angry: Really, Really Angry. A 3rd grader wrote: Sophie is "angry and jealous"-- look at "her hair is up, eyebrows down sloping, shouting." 
Supporting their opinions with this type of clear details is just the sort of practice that they need when they start writing literary essays. But even more importantly, in my opinion, it helps them read carefully and empathize with characters.

Another pair of 3rd graders loved sharing A Ball for Daisy, by Chris Raschka. Our students worked on developing descriptive words for character's emotions -- not just saying that Daisy was sad, but that she was "depressed, melancholy, unhappy." 
detail from A Ball for Daisy, by Chris Raschka
I just love this example from Mo Willem's Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs, where students described the mother dinosaur as "sneaky, tricky and mysterious."
detail from Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs, by Mo Willems
Lisa started off her presentation by sharing picture books that make us feel like we're going on a treasure hunt. Kids know Where's Waldo, but books like Benjamin Chaud's wonderful The Bear's Song incorporate this treasure hunt into the essential plot of the story. 

We had great fun looking at Lisa's recent books Vampire Boy's Good Night and Emily's Blue Period, noticing the details she used to add depth and meaning to the story. We had already read these stories before her visit, so students loved showing her the details they had already noticed (the butler has a bandaid on his neck!) and hearing about others that helped us see more into the story.
Lisa Brown shows her sketchbook to students
Finally, Lisa shared her sketchbook--explaining how she draws every day. And she celebrated drawings our students had done, sketching all sorts of emotions and expressions.

Sending out huge thanks to Lisa Brown for taking the time to visit, and to the Berkeley Public School Fund and the Emerson PTA for sponsoring this author visit.If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2015 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books


  1. What a great visit (and lots if really meaningful work leading up)!!!

  2. It's so nice to see something on Lisa :) She's so talented...and nice! I only know her online, but I can tell :)