Monday, February 16, 2009

Review #16: How to Paint the Portrait of a Bird

Dad:  Today's review is for "How to Paint the Portrait of a Bird."
Isaac (age 10):  I had a feeling it would be about a bird.
Dad:  Did the book tell you how to paint the portrait of a bird?
Isaac:  No.
Dad:  But that's what the book is called.  Well... DID it tell you how to paint the portrait of a bird?
Isaac:  It did.  But not the real way.
Gracie (age 8):  This way is more fun.
Lily (age 5):  It was about a bird and a boy and, well, the bird got into a picture.  The boy painted all the stuff besides the bird.
Gracie:  The cage...  The tree...
Lily:  And the bird flew inside the paint.
Dad:  So, the boy paints a picture of a cage with an open door, a bird flies into the cage, he erases the door, and... ta-da!  The portrait of a bird.
Isaac:  But you have to wait for years and years behind a tree, hiding...
Gracie:  With no food.
Isaac:  ...waiting for a bird to fly into the picture, and you don't even know for sure if it's going to come or not.
Gracie:  The boy imagines he might be waiting there until he's an old man with a beard and super long grass all around him and cobwebs on his head!
Lily:  It could have been really funny if the bird had a beard too!
Gracie:  "I'm an old man with cobwebs on my head!"
Lily:  I think the boy was trying to keep a pet.  Maybe he was trying to get the bird to stay in his picture and be his pet.  And then he tried to make it sing, and it sang!
Gracie:  It was funny when the bird was singing, because it was
like: "TWEET!"  Ye-haw, baby!
Isaac:  The page is all full of music notes.
Lily:  Tweet tweet tweet tweet tweet tweet tweet!
Dad:  Did anyone feel sad for the bird when it flew into the painting?  I did.
Lily:  Me too.  But then it got free.
Gracie:  Then I didn't feel sad.
Lily:  Me either!
Dad:  Would it be worth it?  Waiting that long to paint the portrait of a bird?
Isaac:  Then only keep it for, like, a day!
Lily:  And the next morning the boy had to do it all over again.
Gracie:  That would be hard.
Isaac:  He stayed there for a YEAR.  Behind a tree.  Hiding.  Waiting for a bird.  And then he has to do it for another year to catch another bird!
Dad:  Yeah, you guys seemed pretty freaked out over the realization that if the boy wanted to keep a portrait of a bird, he would have to go through the whole process again when the bird flies out...
Isaac:  That would be frustrating.  You would just do it over again.  Then over.  And over and over and over and over.
Dad: (opening to a spread)  Now, you all really liked this page didn't you...
Isaac:  OH yeah!
Gracie:  It's so full of color!  And it's beautiful.
Lily:  Yeah!
Gracie:  The sun has tons of color shining out of it.
Isaac:  I like how he made the butterflies...
Gracie:  The butterflies are so pretty.
Lily:  I want a summer like that in our front yard!
Dad:  When the boy signs his name he writes: Mordicai Gerstein.  Do you know who Mordicai Gerstein is?
Isaac:  No.  Is it the guy who made the book?
Dad:  Yep.  So the illustrator imagined himself as a character in the book.
Gracie:  Once Mr. Murphy put me in a story he told about a big red monster who lost his blankie.
Dad:  How about Isaac?
Gracie:  I know!  He's in that book Mr. Sandford made of the guy who cooks...
Dad:  To get Isaac in that book, first Mr. Sandford had to paint a cage...  then he had to wait for Isaac to crawl into the cage...
Gracie:  Ha ha ha ha...
Isaac:  No.  I had to pose for an hour...
Dad:  So when we make our pictures at the end of this Bookie Woogie, are we going to have to paint cages and run outside to look for birds to fly into them?
Isaac:  That would be strange.
Gracie:  That would be cool!
Dad:  We might have to wait until Gracie is old and has a beard.
Dad:  Um, you just whacked me.
Gracie:  I don't grow beards...  You have a beard!
Dad:  Final verdict - how was this book?
Isaac:  Love it!  Good!  Great!  All of those combined into a little ball of birdies!
Hysterical laughter by all
Dad:  Sooooo...  I'll take that as a thumbs up?
Isaac:  YES!

portrait of a bird, by Gracie

old, waiting, and covered in cobwebs, by Isaac

catching a bird, by Lily

Author: Jacques Prevert
Illustrator: Mordicai Gerstein
Published, 2007: Roaring Brook Press
Like it? Find it


ElizT said...

A magic flute might be quicker!
Your drawings are full of story and colour.

Anonymous said...

This sounds like a fun story. I've liked illustrating birds ever since The Secret Garden unit we had in 5th grade. I think it was a robin in that book that led to the discovery of the key to the garden door. I sure wouldn't want to wait around as long as Isaac's guy did for a bird though.

If you ever get a chance you should go to the Bird's of Prey in Idaho. They are so nice there and will help you take pictures of birds so you can draw them or you can sit and observe while you draw- no waiting around for a year :)

Z-Kids said...

Dad took me to a field museum with some of my friends once to draw the animals. I think it is easier to go to a museum than to sit around and wait for a bird to land in your painting. One of the birds I drew was a parrot - I think that one was my best.
- Isaac

jonathan said...

Wonderful conversation, interesting illustrations.
Will surely be back to read more.

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

love it as always!

Carrie said...

I think I esp. like Lily's drawing of catching a bird. I like the purple swirl you are using, Lily, to show motion.

And it's nice that girls don't grow beards! ha!

Frank Dormer said...

I really like your site. If you ask me, kids should talk more about the books they love.


Frank Dormer

Kelly H-Y said...

How in the world do you keep up with the running commentary ... are you sitting there, with your laptop, as everyone is talking about the book?! Amazing. Love the interaction between you and the kids. And the illustrations are AWESOME!!!

morninglight mama said...

The conversation was full of giggles as usual, and the drawings are darling. (Love the cobwebs!)

Anonymous said...

I love this beautiful little bird book. It's a wonderful, peaceful bedtime read. As always, wonderful art, Z-Kids!

OTTO said...

This blog is absolutely fantastic! The conversation, the illustrations, and their take on the book is just heartwarming, funny, and inspiring. I used to work at a children's books store and adored the children's reactions and commentary.

Nosferatuia said...

Wonderful Blog! I love how you have involved your children, there is so much wonder in the world that so many of us tend to miss. Your blog is full of inspiration and wonder, two things that I cherish, keep up the good work and Art :)

Lorie Ann Grover said...

"Little ball of birdies." I LOVE IT, Isaac!

Z-Kids said...

Hi to everyone -- Especially to new visitors! Thanks for taking time to comment!

I need to set up a FAQ area... Lots of people wonder how I keep up with the commentary! Well, we record the conversation and I type it up later. We started out with cassette tapes, but I quickly broke the player with all the pause > play > rewind > play > stop > rewind that transcribing required.

So I recently sprung for a spiffy hand held digital recorder just for Bookie Woogie. Which also makes me think that, if I ever get time to figure out how to do it, I may someday be able to include choice snippets of the conversation via audio files! We'll see...


Christine said...

I love this conversation! The pictures are great too. Thanks for sharing this book.

ibeeeg said...

Great drawings!

I think my 9yod would love to read this book. She loves birds and she loves drawing. Thanks for posting.

Unknown said...

I've just stumbled across your blog for the first time, and I love the way you have involved the children - I'm going to have to make sure I do that when mine are a bit older.

I really enjoyed it!

Anonymous said...

I just discovered your delightful blog! I love it! I'm a mom and an educator and your blog has given me some great ideas for a few new books to check out. I can't wait to read the next post! Thanks!

Robin M said...

Great conversation and lovely pictures. We'll have to get the book. Thanks.