Monday, December 22, 2008
Review #8: Through the Animals' Eyes
Gracie (age 8): This is our special Christmas Bookie Woogie!
Lily (age 5): Woohoo!
Gracie: Deck the halls with boughs of holly, falalalala lala lala!
Lily: Don't sing that song! It's crazy.
Dad: We've picked a book by Christopher Wormell called...
Lily: (reading) Through the Animals' Eyes.
Isaac (age 10): Why do Christmas books always think there were three wisemen? The Bible never tells how many.
Dad: You're right.
Isaac: It could have been six thousand wisemen. Or it could have been just one.
Dad: Well, we know it was more than one...
Isaac: Yeah... wiseMEN. But it could have been two.
Dad: Why do you think people make the mistake of thinking there were three men?
Isaac: Because there were three gifts...
Dad: Yep. Now, let's look at the book... Who do you think the two people are in this picture?
Lily: Mary and Joseph.
Dad: How can you tell?
Gracie: One lady is on a donkey and one lady is not. Oops... I mean...
Dad: I don't think that's a lady...
Gracie: Well, they're both wearing dresses!
Dad: That would be a robe...
Lily: And Joseph always has a stick.
Dad: Well, now I think you are pointing at a shepherd.
Dad: Why did shepherds carry staffs back then?
Lily: Because they could put the stick in the fire and then scare the wolves off and then get the fire off the stick so they could do it again.
Dad: Those would be some Super Warrior Shepherds! I think somebody still has "Rapunzel's Revenge" on the brain...
Isaac: The pictures in this book were really cool. Every picture compares two things together - animals and humans. A different animal on each page. In the first picture, there are storks following the humans. Both the birds and the humans are going somewhere.
Dad: They're both kind of migrating.
Isaac: The next page has a griffin vulture...
Lily: ...that guy Joseph is covering that girl Mary. And that bird is covering the egg.
Isaac: So they are both getting ready to give birth.
Dad: Those are called "Parallels."
Isaac: Like a parallelogram?
Dad: Yep - parallelograms have sides that follow in the same direction. The animals in this book are parallel because their stories follow Mary and Joseph. They run side by side...
Isaac: It makes the pictures cooler.
Gracie: The shepherds are watching over the flocks just like the dog is watching over the flocks.
Lily: I didn't like the guy who was bad. Herod. They compared him to a bee stinging a hand.
Dad: You guys are finding great parallels.
Gracie: I found another parallelogram - there's a whole bunch of doves in the sky like angels. That's my favorite picture.
Dad: It would be a neat picture to hang up on a wall.
Lily: It's cool how he made this side purple and this side orange and this side yellow...
Isaac: How does he do... that... "shade"?
Dad: When someone blends from one color to another... that's called a "Gradient."
Gracie: Ha ha! Gradient.
Lily: Oh, gradient!
Isaac: I think he must have used a computer for that.
Dad: Nope, not a computer. Okay, so here's the big question - what do you think he made these pictures with?
Lily: There are big, big lines...
Isaac: He used mostly black...
Gracie: Pencil? Pastel? Paint?
Dad: He did use paint - or maybe ink. But he didn't use a brush.
Isaac: Dipping a quill in the paint?
Dad: Fruit? Wha...?
Lily: Dip it in the paint and then draw something!
Dad: Actually - you could be getting close. I'll tell you. It's called "Lino-cut." You start with a piece of linoleum... a big block. Do you know where this is going?
Isaac: It's blocks of wood, er... linoleum. You take a knife and you cut away on it and you stamp it on the paper with paint.
Dad: So now - if you look at the pictures again - can you see that they were all made out of "stamps"?
Lily: It's cool that he used stamps. I could not do that.
Isaac: I have a question... If he cut this, how did he make these little lines in this other color? Did he keep making a new one, put it away, make a new one, put it away, make a new one... and you have to keep doing it over and over and over again?
Dad: Yep - he had to do a new linocut for each color in the picture.
Isaac: That would take FOREVER!
Gracie: He has to be a really good lino-cut artist because -- All those shapes!
Dad: And here's the other thing that is tricky about it... When we draw, we're marking down the black outlines. But with lino-cut, you are taking away everything except the black lines. So he's actually drawing/scooping everything around the black as he cuts. Does that make sense?
Isaac: That would be hard for the bricks in that picture!
Dad: That would be really hard on lots of stuff! He's not drawing the shapes of horns and legs and tails.... He's thinking about the shapes between the horns and legs and tails... So when he's done, it leaves the black outlines behind. Here's another art word for you... He's got to think about the "Negative Space" - it's almost like drawing what isn't in the picture...
Isaac: That's kind of like scratchboard.
Dad: Exactly the same principle.
Gracie: I like lino-cut. It's a lot of hard work to do lino-cut. He must be a really smart professional about lino-cut.
Dad: I think you like saying the word "lino-cut."
Gracie: Hee hee...
Dad: Now that's how he made the pictures. What about the way they looked.
Lily: Colorful! I love it.
Gracie: Not very realistic looking. But it's not cartoony either.
Dad: Kind of "Stylized." Boy, you guys are learning all sorts of art words today.
Gracie: I like how the people in this book "motion."
Dad: What do you mean?
Gracie: The ways they are standing. I think that part is cool. In some pictures people are so surprised and in other pictures they are gentle and kind. And in other pictures people look very mad. You could tell by their "motions."
Gracie: By their poses.
Dad: So how does this story compare to the actual Christmas story?
Gracie: It's basically the same Christmas story, only it's through the animals' point of view.
Isaac: The pictures went along with the story, but he also kind of imagined how it might have been. Like, on one page there was a leopard lying on the branch of a tree above Mary and Joseph. So, he was imagining that there might have been a tree with a leopard there. But it doesn't change the Christmas story.
Dad: How does he keep it intact?
Isaac: Because the words of the story keep it true. The animals are only in the pictures. He doesn't ever say, "Then they saw a leopard on a tree." The words keep the story true, but in the pictures he imagines what else could have been happening with the animals.
Lily: Everyone should read this book AND read the story from the Bible. You can compare them!
Dad: Good idea!
Lily: I want to read it again.
Author/Illustrator: Christopher Wormell
Published, 2006: Running Press
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