The Art Room — Perfect Picture Book Friday

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.”


13 thoughts on “The Art Room — Perfect Picture Book Friday”

  1. This looks like a fabulous book! I’m not familiar with Emily Carr. But this looks like a good introduction. And it appears that the book is as much about words and language as it is about art. I love books that stretch kids vocabularies. Thanks for sharing this one!

  2. I just love historical nonfiction and books about teaching are my favorite. This prose poem sounds delightful. And I can’t wait to check it out of the library. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  3. To make paper come alive is such a lovely phrase – and a challenge too! In one of my art classes – and this was in college – we would be let out amongst the grounds to draw what we liked. I remember taking pencil and eraser and spending hours drawing a couple of inches of ground or the angle where the branch meets the tree. Getting lost in creation – t here’s nothing like it.

  4. Oh, Beth, this is a gem!! I’d read it!!! It’s the kind of book that could be savored throughout a life of reading.

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