Tag Archives: Art

#365PictureBooks No.50 The Beatles were fab (and they were funny)

“Q: How do you find all this business of having screaming girls following you all over the place?
George: Well, we feel flattered . . .
John: . . . and flattened.

When the Beatles burst onto the music scene in the early 1960s, they were just four unknown lads from Liverpool. But soon their off-the-charts talent and offbeat humor made them the most famous band on both sides of the Atlantic. Lively, informative text and expressive, quirky paintings chronicle the phenomenal rise of Beatlemania, showing how the Fab Four’s sense of humor helped the lads weather everything that was thrown their way—including jelly beans”. Publisher

I discovered this book on my quest for more picture book biographies to use with our PYP : How we express ourselves units of inquiry. I’ve been trying to widen the scope of our collection in the arts area by including books on the different types of art forms including music and dance.  This book is great introduction to one of the most well known rock and roll bands of all time for children, so you won’t find information here about their dabbling in drugs or spiritual awakening. There is plenty describing their early years, from first getting together in Liverpool and naming their band through to all the heady years of Beatlemania. The book describes how their quirky and intelligent sense of humour helped them cope with the rigours of new found fame and the pressures on their friendship. Interestingly, you can see how the older generation of the time would have found this type of humour silly but to me it seems very clever.

Photo source: http://www.stacyinnerst.com/stacyinnerst.com/SI_Beatles_Naming_the_Band.html

The full colour illustrations are outstanding and when I looked through the book I noticed these first before reading the text in a second sitting.  The cover with its sunny yellow cover almost commands the reader to pick this off the shelf. The book would be excellent shared between those of us who were alive when the Beatles were at their peak and a new generation of kids who are still hearing some of these songs today. Great to pair with a standard non-fiction informational text like the Story of rock and roll – picture book biographies like this one really bring the musicians to life. I think playing some of the songs before or after reading would help deepen the connections.

This picture book could also be used as part of a Unit on then and now – looking at the differences of 50 years ago and today, to show children how music and teenage life have changed between their grandparents era and theirs.

Bibliographic details:

The Beatles were fab (and they were funny) / Written by Kathleen Krull & Paul Brewer and illustrated by Stacy Innerst

Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.

40 pages

ISBN: 9780547509914

I borrowed this copy from Auckland Libraries but I have just ordered a copy for our school library.

#365PictureBooks Day 23 – Viva Frida

Frida Kahlo, one of the world’s most famous and unusual artists is revered around the world. Her life was filled with laughter, love, and tragedy, all of which influenced what she painted on her canvases. Distinguished author/illustrator Yuyi Morales illuminates Frida’s life and work in this elegant and fascinating book“. A Neal Porter Book. Publisher: Macmillan

This is a stunning picture book – and the production values mean this is a work of art in itself. This will appeal to a lot of adults as well as children. I was looking to buy this one for our collection as a picture book biography of Frida Kahlo. I don’t currently have any books about her in our collection. The book is less of a biography and more of an evocative poem. Whether or not it is right for your school collection will depend on whether you are looking for a biographical fact based book or one that engages the senses and provokes questions. Children will see some of the iconic symbols that feature in Frida Kahlo’s paintings (the deer, the heart, arrows, the hummingbird, parrot and dog). I am thinking that I would love to buy this one because it will lead to wonderful discussions about artistic passion and creativity (and symbolism).

The bilingual (English/Spanish) text in this picture book appears simple with a single word on some pages, but the simplicity belies its brilliance. It feels very poetic and dreamlike but passionate and strong at the same time. The artwork is incredible and the video below shows a little of what must have gone into making the mixed media illustrations for the book.

Bibliographic details:

Viva Frida /Written and illustrated by Yuyi Morales; photography by Tim O’Meara

Published by Roaring Brook Press, 2014.

40 pages


NZ RRP $35.50

Available to purchase locally or borrow from Auckland Libraries

Our first non-fiction book for 2013 ‘Waterlife’

ALT="Waterlife Jha Rambharos"

Waterlife by Jha Rambharos, Published by Tara Books (India), 2012. Limited Edition handmade book number 2002/3000. 28 pages. Clothbound.

Rambharos Jha grew up on the banks of the legendary river Ganga, and developed a fascination for water and water life. Born in the culture-rich district of Darbanga in the Mithila region, he moved to Madhubani as a child when his father started work in a government supported art and culture project. Since then he has followed his own creative impulses, developing the tradition in his own distinctive style. This is his first book.

I was inspired to buy this book for our library after reading this wonderful article (complete with gorgeous photos of the prints from the book) at brain pickings.org click here:

I was drawn to the book for it’s inspirational use rather than as an informational text.  I can see this this being used as inspiration for the Art component in a PYP unit on Sharing the Planet or How we express ourselves. I work with some wonderful teachers who love teaching art using techniques from many cultures. This book is my gift to them for International Book Giving Day on February 14 2013. I hope they can use it to inspire our students to even greater creative heights and as a provocation for conversation, thinking and inquiry.

From Amazon.com:
“Without a shadow of exaggeration, the most beautiful book I’ve ever laid eyes on.” – Brainpickings.org

“This folk art collection of wood-cut style illustrations is so visually compelling, you may want three copies… one to leaf through at leisure, one to take apart to frame the full-page images, and one to bestow upon someone special.” – SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION

“Gloriously attractive, endlessly fascinating book. The illustrations of fish, reptiles, crustaceans and sea birds shine and shimmer; each is as vibrant as it is meticulous.” – Asian Review of Books

Selected as featured title at the TED2012 Bookstore.

Waterlife features Mithila art, a form of folk painting from Bihar in eastern India. The artist Rambharos Jha grew up on the banks of the legendary river Ganga, and developed a fascination for water and water life. In this visually sumptuous book, Jha creates an unusual artist’s journal, adapting the motifs of the Mithila style to express his own vision. He frames his colorful images of octopus, crocodiles, birds and shellfish with a playful text that evokes both childhood memory and folk legend.

Waterlife is silk-screen printed by hand on handmade paper, and hand-numbered to indicate the limited print run.

ALT=Waterlife Jha Rambharos detail

An interview with the author is available on the Tara Books blog here:

Thank you to my friend Nicola West who obtained this book for me via The Smithsonian and lovingly transported it to New Zealand on a recent trip. Some books have wonderful stories of their own.