[Nonfiction Monday] Art from Water Can Be… and Art/Text Activities

Welcome to Nonfiction Monday! I’m sharing a piece of near-final?art from my forthcoming Water Can Be… (Millbrook Press, 2014) today. A while back, I shared a couple of wonderful sketches from the illustrator, Violeta Dabija. Recently, Carol Hinz, my super-smart Millbrook editor, sent along a piece of almost-final art to look at, and it’s art of one of the sketches I shared, which is extra fun.Print

How gorgeous is that? ?I think it’s so cool to be able to see bits of the art as it progresses. Sketches here, a cover there. And even as much I enjoy those, they don’t compare to how beautiful the actual printed book is when it arrives. I am so happy to have Violeta as a collaborator on this book. Her work in A Leaf Can Be… still amazes me. (And I should have good news to share soon about a third collaboration!)

Sharing A Leaf Can Be… with kids recently and thinking about Violeta’s art has had me ruminating on just how crucial the art is in a nonfiction picture book. It has to engage kids, delight adults, and be accurate. And in the case of super-short nonfiction, like Leaf and Water, it actually has to present some of the content. “Skin welter,” for instance, wouldn’t be clear to a lot of kids without the illustration of poky leaves and a kid with a rash! So the illustrations really have a lot of jobs to do–just like leaves:>)

My website has teaching guides and extension materials for Leaf, but I also thought I’d share a few possible classroom activities you could use with Leaf or other brief nonfiction books.

1) Read a brief nonfiction book aloud without showing the art. Discuss the content/meaning of the book.

  • Now read it again and, after each spread, ask kids to describe what they think the art could/should show.
  • Talk about which spreads are hard to understand without looking at the art.
  • Or have them do their own illustrations, based solely on the text! Then show the art.
  • Have them look at the art carefully and discuss what the art shows that wasn’t even included in the words.

2) Brainstorm together and write a simple nonfiction piece about something at school, like how the lunchroom works. Write one sentence of your piece on each piece of drawing paper. Divide your class into groups, and have each group illustrate its sentence. Share the drawings and talk about all the different ways they could show each simple sentence.

3) Take a wordless picture book or coffee table book. Select a set of pages and share them with your class. Then, individually or in groups, come up with one sentence for each picture.

Abby the Librarian has the Nonfiction Monday roundup. Go learn something fun!

42 Responses

    1. Thanks, Susanna. I can’t wait to see final art for the book in a couple of months–even though it will still be another 10 months after that before publication. So. Hard. To. Wait.

    1. Thanks, Susanna. I can’t wait to see final art for the book in a couple of months–even though it will still be another 10 months after that before publication. So. Hard. To. Wait.

    1. Isn’t that cool? I love seeing the different stages of art. I wonder if Violeta would do a guest blog post someday (she has a newborn right now!) showing the evolution of one single image…

    1. Isn’t that cool? I love seeing the different stages of art. I wonder if Violeta would do a guest blog post someday (she has a newborn right now!) showing the evolution of one single image…

    1. Believe me–as I’ve said before, I feel like I won the illustrator lottery. Oh, yes, the specks of light, or lit up leaves, or mist–wonderful!

    1. Believe me–as I’ve said before, I feel like I won the illustrator lottery. Oh, yes, the specks of light, or lit up leaves, or mist–wonderful!

  1. Violeta has outdone herself. I love the contrast of dark and light. It is hard to wait for such an exciting book.

    Thanks for the wonderful activity ideas.

  2. Violeta has outdone herself. I love the contrast of dark and light. It is hard to wait for such an exciting book.

    Thanks for the wonderful activity ideas.

  3. If I close my eyes I can feel those lush, soft fern fronds in my hand.

    Perfect pairs: Leaf and Water, Laura and Violeta

    1. It’s odd howmuch texture she gets into such flat shapes, isn’t it? I guess it’s the magic she works with color that does that…

  4. If I close my eyes I can feel those lush, soft fern fronds in my hand.

    Perfect pairs: Leaf and Water, Laura and Violeta

    1. It’s odd howmuch texture she gets into such flat shapes, isn’t it? I guess it’s the magic she works with color that does that…

  5. I’m late, but wanted to say how beautiful this one page is, Laura, and the words are just beautiful harbingers of good ones to come! I like your activities, will be very good to try. One of our classes had each student take a wordless picture book & each child wrote text for the story. It was quite a marvelous project for them, about story, and about what the illustrator was trying to say.

    1. Thanks, Linda:>) Yes, I love that idea–so fun to see the variety of work kids come up with, all based on the same starting point. It’s not ony great for writing, but it’s a fabulous lesson in individuality, creativity, diversity…

  6. I’m late, but wanted to say how beautiful this one page is, Laura, and the words are just beautiful harbingers of good ones to come! I like your activities, will be very good to try. One of our classes had each student take a wordless picture book & each child wrote text for the story. It was quite a marvelous project for them, about story, and about what the illustrator was trying to say.

    1. Thanks, Linda:>) Yes, I love that idea–so fun to see the variety of work kids come up with, all based on the same starting point. It’s not ony great for writing, but it’s a fabulous lesson in individuality, creativity, diversity…

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