9780888994493_p0_v1_s260x420Title: The Art Room

Author: Susan Vande Griek

Illustrator: Pascal Milelli

Publisher: Toronto: Douglas & McIntyre, 2002

Genre: Picture book, historical fiction

Audience Age: 5 to 8 years

Theme: art, nature, freedom of expression, Emily Carr (Canadian artist)

Opening Sentences: The ad in the News Advertiser read Miss M. Emily Carr   Classes in Drawing & Painting  Studio Room 6… and so we came and found that new stone building on Granville Street, and we thundered up those bare marble stairs, past typewriters talking business and tongues babbling news. We threw our hellos to Janitor John and piled through the door into the world of the art room.

Synopsis: Some time in the early days of the 1900s, several children take art lessons from noted Canadian artist, Emily Carr.  The text is written as a prose poem. The word choice is perfect, with vivid verbs (see excerpt above for examples) that bring the learning experience to life. The illustrations are detailed but not photographically so, beautifully evocative of the text. Part of the jacket flap blurb expresses the appeal of the book perfectly: “This book reminds us of what a joyous experience art can be, and can serve as an inspiration to children who love to look at the world and try to reflect its beauty in their own creations.”

Activities/Resources: The Emily Carr website linked above includes a Teacher’s Guide about her life and work.

Another activity (which would be a long-term project) would be to have kids do the art projects that are mentioned in the book, including going out to paint city or nature scenes, trying to “make paint fly and paper come alive.”

Talking about the word choice in the book, and why the author chose the vivid and sometimes unusual words she did, would be a great activity. Getting kids to think up similar word pictures would extend the activity.

Availability: Readily available in hardcover.


Every Friday, bloggers join together to share picture book reviews and resources, thanks to author Susanna Leonard Hill’s brainchild, “Perfect Picture Book Fridays.” Susanna then adds the books (and links to the reviews) to a comprehensive listing by subject on her blog. Find the entire listing at her “Perfect Picture Books.”


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