Saturday, April 14, 2012

Fabulous Cities

May I gush about another wonderful children's book writer and illustrator? Oh heck, you can't stop me.

The late Simms Taback wrote and illustrated books full of humor and charm complete with quirky colorful folky and funny illustrations. All of them are incredibly clever and, though silly, are amazingly beautiful and contain details that make me want to look at them again and again.

My favorite is his Caldecott winner, Joseph Had a Little Overcoat, a retelling of a classic Jewish story of a poor man who has an old ripped coat and continually cuts it down so he still can use it. First it becomes a jacket and then gets cropped into a vest. By the end it's only a button and soon even that is lost. But the story leaves you with a moral about creativity and resourcefulness and seeing the glass half full.

OK, OK, you say. Get on with it, Paula! What did YOU make from this book? Me? Nothing. But the kids in my Pre-K group made some lovely crazy buildings and cities. What might be difficult to see in the scan of this wonderful spread from the book is the quirky details. Simms added crazy photos of people making all sorts of faces in the windows of the city. He also put in pieces of material and newspaper clippings made to look like old Yiddish (Jewish) papers.

A trip to the city for our hero!'

Together we read the book and looked at the pictures. 

The Picasso's Basement PreK artists used cut and torn paper to make their wacky buildings. They clipped pictures out of magazines to fill  the windows with faces. I told them to feel free to add any kind of details with markers and scissors. One resourceful artist even added a button she found on the floor which was very much in the spirit of the book! 

Well done, artists!

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