Emily’s Art – Perfect Picture Book Friday


Title: Emily’s Art

Author/Illustrator: Peter Catalanotto

Publisher: New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2001.

Genre: Picture book, fiction

Audience Age: 5 – 8

Theme: Imagination, creativity, art, drawing, individuality, talent, effect of being misunderstood, concept of “best”, self-esteem, criticism

Opening Sentences:“What else could a contest be?”

“To see who is the best,” said Sage.

Ms. Fair nodded. “That’s right. Next Friday the school is having an art contest. We’re all going to paint pictures to hang in the gym. Prize ribbons will be given to the best painting in each grade.”

Synopsis: Emily is arguably the best artist in her class, but when the judge of an art contest thinks Emily’s picture of her long-eared dog is of a rabbit, she decides to stop drawing. She learns to accept herself and to be proud of her talent – and her teacher learns in the process as well. The book begins with an art contest to decide who is best, and ends with an art party to celebrate all the artists in the class.

Activities/Resources: Interesting discussion starters for using Emily’s Art in Teaching Children Philosophy.

After discussing the book, children could be encouraged to draw their own art and have their own art party, celebrating the unique talents of each of them.

Information about the author can be found at this link: Peter Catalanotto

Availability: Available in paperback.

# 8 in Perfect Picture Book Fridays. See all this week’s Perfect Picture Books at Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog, or find the entire listing at her Perfect Picture Books tag on her blog.

30 thoughts on “Emily’s Art – Perfect Picture Book Friday”

  1. So, we were both drawn to art this week 🙂 What an awesome opening sentence! Classy! And then finishing with a party, this sounds like a very well crafted picture book with a great self esteem theme. Thanks for sharing it, Beth.

    1. Art’s a good thing to be “drawn” to!

      Heading over to read yours… it’s “just getting up time” in BethLand.

  2. This looks like a wonderful choice for helping children understand competition. I haven’t read it yet and will certainly have to look it up. I love the idea of reading the book and then having an art party! Thanks for another great addition to our list, Beth 🙂

    1. You’re welcome, Susanna! I hope you like the book as much as I did. I’m going to have fun this year, scouting out books about the arts.

  3. This sounds like a darling book. I would certainly read this with my daughter, maybe get her to share her thoughts on the topic of uniqueness and creativity.

    Thanks so much for sharing this.

  4. All of the students in my daughter’s school are making art projects for an upcoming art fair, and my daughter’s 1st grade class is drawing animals. She is drawing a cat, and she told me yesterday that her friends said her cat looked like a kangaroo. Luckily, she didn’t seem too upset about it, but your review of this book reminded me of it. Sounds like a great book for helping young children deal with self-esteem issues, which are so important to deal with when kids are young 🙂

    1. Your daughter’s experience is so similar to Emily’s — I’m glad she’s taking it in her stride. Thanks, Kerry!

  5. Very nice choice Beth. I’ve read this book and just loved it! It really has some very good lessons for children about creativty, finding one’s talent and pride. Glad you shared this as it is a PPB.

  6. Ooh, I love PBs with an art or music focus, and this looks like a sweet addition to the collection. I’m determined that my boys SHALL be creative, haha! They can barely hold a crayon, but I’m stocking up on craft supplies already,,,

    1. Start ’em young, and give them lots of opportunities and different ways of doing things — and encourage their attempts!

  7. This book sounds like the perfect picture book on who’s decision is best, the person who learns how to accept themselves as is or the best as defined by the contest. This is a valuable lesson to learn and it seems valuable to learn it as a young child because many of take all our life to learn it.

    It also seems like the book taught it without seeming preachy which is an art in itself. I must read it as I am having trouble on this front with a picture book I’m writing.

    Thanks for selecting this favorite.

  8. I love moralising books, and this is right up my alley. 😉 That is a great cover, the use of colour reminds me of the Old Masters. Thanks for introducing it!

    1. You’re welcome, Jen! I peeked at your blog — I will visit at length shortly. It looks very interesting (and the title makes me hungry. Bring on the perogies!)

  9. Oh this looks like a wonderful book! As an artist, I can so relate easily to the subject matter. It sounds like it has excellent message.Thanks for your nice comments on my blog btw.

    1. Thanks, Loni! I think you’d love this book, and have a particular affinity for both the subject matter and the protagonist. And the comments on your blog were well-deserved!

  10. This book seems to be creating a bit of stir- just 24 hours ago I hadn’t heard of it, but since then someone tweeted me to recommend it and now I come across it here as part of the comment challenge. I do hope I can find it here in the UK.

    1. Oh, I do hope you can find it, Zoe. It’s a delightful book — shows how adults can get the wrong end of the stick sometimes, and what effect this can have on children — and is also a great celebration of art.

      Thanks for visiting! Hope you’ll be back!

    1. Thanks, Darshana! The first couple of pages of the story actually happen before the title page, which caught me off guard. I think your daughters might like this one…

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