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...
All:  Hahahaha!
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.
Lily:  Oh.
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."
Lily:  Ingredient?
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:  Nope.
Lily:  Fruit.
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."
Dad:  Poses?
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.

Lamb of God, by Gracie

shepherd and a leopard, by Lily

flying dove, by Isaac

Author/Illustrator: Christopher Wormell
Published, 2006: Running Press
Like it? Find it


caribookscoops said...

This looks like a fun review. I love the idea of telling the nativity story from the point-of-view of animals. Just and fyi my sister and I left you an award on our blog.

ElizT said...

Nice to hear it for printmaking!
Leopards are such a nuisance.

Z-Kids said...

Hi Cari -
Thanks for the Butterfly Award!
I'm going to attempt to keep the content of the main page strictly set aside for the kids' reviews. But I'll take this chance to point readers to a handful of The Coolest Blogs "I Ever Know"[sic]. Here are the blogs I try to catch up on a nearly daily basis. (Sorry, don't think I can make these open in a new window)
Fuse #8 - a great one stop spot for all the best news in the children's publishing world. A great list of other bloggers in the side column too
Drawn! - great art & design finds
Cartoon Brew - best source for news in the animation industry
Just One More Book - Superb! Wonderful kid lit podcasts...
Nuclearity - wonderfully engaging family related podcasts
Book Scoops - right back atcha bookscoops!
Reading to Know - the other blog I discovered during the comment challenge (along with book scoops) which I find consistently tapping into my interests and an easy place for me to participate via comments...
Adam Rex - master of illustration and story.
Mo Willems - master of mole rats
Winsor McCay - master of yore


Anonymous said...

Hey, thanks for stopping by. That's one that I've been thinking about adding to our permanent library. It is a good one - at least we think so. :)

Thanks for sharing this review.

Anonymous said...

Again, love the drawings!

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

Great review and drawings!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Z-Dad for your talented kids!

Sherry said...

I love your kid reviews. I've now called my husband over two weeks in a row to read your transcription of your discussions. What a great way for dad and kids to bond ---over books.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I concur! Love the review and drawings.

We have a similar book, and my children really like it.

Carrie said...

I looked up Little Hoot and Little Pea on y'all's recommendation and LOVED them! (Review forthcoming with appropriate credit given to you all.) This one looks like a winner also and I linked you up again to my highlights post.

Thanks for all of the good recommendations. As if I didn't have enough books as it is . . .

Hope your family had a Merry Christmas!

Z-Kids said...

Wow - Butterfly Awards coming out the wazoo... Thanks also to Jennifer at "Jean Little Library" and to "Mommy's Favorite Children's Books" who gave one to the kids' other blog Chicken Nugget Lemon Tooty. Thanks everyone!