Saturday, March 25, 2017

Slice of Life Story Challenge - Gallery Tour of my Children's Illustrators Collection

It's the March Slice of Life Challenge at Two Writing Teachers!

This Is Not My Hat Cover

     I have an extensive picture book collection.  I wish I knew how many I have, but I haven't cataloged them.  Someday!  They are organized in crates by theme topics, content, writing craft, and reading skills.  I reorganize them once in a while, depending on how I want to use them each year.  I consider each and every one works of art.  Where else can you have a whole art gallery at your fingertips?  I love picture books.

     Even though I can enjoy amazing works of art in the books, I also started getting interested in collecting prints and original art by children's illustrators when I fell in love with Jon Klassen's Hat Trilogy.  I LOVED I Want My Hat Back and enjoyed kids' reactions when I read it aloud.  Then came This Is Not My Hat, which did not disappoint.  It may have been even funnier.  I missed the dark humor a little, but loved the satisfying ending of We Found a Hat, published last year.  I was so sad to see the trilogy end, but I'll enjoy sharing all three with my students for years to come.  They love them as much as I do.  My husband bought me my first print, which started my collection, from This Is Not My Hat.  It hangs proudly above a bookshelf in my classroom.  All my framed prints and originals hang on my classroom walls.  It's fun when I read a picture book for the first time, and the kids realize there is a picture on the wall from it!

     Speaking of trilogies, my next item came from another favorite trilogy, Aaron Becker's Journey books.  I am a HUGE fan of these beautiful, wordless books.  Aaron made a wonderful video for my kids, answering our questions, and I got to meet him at NCTE and get my book signed.  He signed 2 out of the 3 prints (he was in Spain when my husband bought me the 2nd), but only two are framed.  I got the third one for my birthday, and I still need to take it in to my favorite framing place.  They are BEAUTIFUL!

When I get the third one framed, I'll rearrange them so they'll hang in order.
The third one (Return):
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Aaron Becker answers a fifth grade teachers' classes questions about "Journey" from Aaron Becker on Vimeo.

     I'm not quite sure what order the following prints/originals came into my life, but I love them all!

     I am a huge fan of Matthew Cordell's.  This wonderful watercolor painting was from his book, hello! hello!  It's about a young girl, Lydia, who is frustrated that her family is caught up in electronics, and she wants to enjoy the big, beautiful world.

hello! Cover

     Matthew offered these originals on Facebook if you bought a certain number of his books, if I remember correctly.  You're going to send me an original painting?  Um....count me in!  An amazing follow-up story is that, when I brought it in to be framed, there was a leak in the storage part of the frame shop, and ruined the painting.  My framer felt SO badly.  I took a shot and told the story to Matthew, and he said, "No problem!" and made me another.  Just another reason to be a fan of his!! This watercolor reminds me to enjoy this one and only life we have!

     This next original came from Jarrett J. Krosoczka's The Frog Who Croaked, the first installment of his hilarious and fun Platypus Police Squad. series.

The Frog Who Croaked Cover

     I bid on this awesome original in a charity auction that Jarrett set up.  I believe it was for the Joe and Shirl Krosoczka Memorial Youth Scholarship at the Worcester Art Museum, which provides tuition to underprivileged children.  I've had the pleasure of hearing Jarrett speak at literacy conferences, and he is one of the nicest, inspiring people you'll ever meet.  This painting makes me smile.
     Next, is a print from Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown. I just love this story about a tiger who is searching for his true identity.  The colors and beautiful foliage in this book are amazing.  My students love this one.

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild Cover

     I was convinced this book was going to win a Caldecott Award or Honor that year, but alas, it didn't (there were amazing books that did, however, including an Honor for Journey).  However, it's gotten plenty of other accolades, and I love this print from it.  It hangs above the pencil sharpener, so the kids see it often!

Lion, Lion Cover     These next two originals came from Nerd Camp 2015.  I love this story and wrote about it here.  I won the lion painting in the Nerd Camp art raffle, which raises money to buy books for kids at Nerd Camp Jr. The lion original is by Larry Day and comes from the book, Lion Lion by Miriam Busch, and the sketch of Miriam Busch and I is by Ruth McNally Barshaw. These hang side by side behind my desk. I'm not sure you can see the dialogue between the lion and the boy.  The lion is asking, "Where are you going?" and the boy answers, "I'm going to Nerd Camp. What about you?" These two works of art remind me how kind and fun children's authors and illustrators are.

     Have you heard of The Yarn?  Since I just mentioned Nerd Camp, I should mention the amazing children's literature guru and 3rd grade teacher, Colby Sharp.  He and Travis Jonker created this podcast series interviewing children's lit writers and illustrators.  Since I contributed a certain amount to this project, they sent me original sketches from Jennifer and Matt Holm's excellent and honest graphic novel, Sunny Side Up. As an added bonus, Colby included a print by Loren Long, from his book Little Tree.  I love both Loren Long and that book!  Loren is from Cincinnati, so I've met him several times, and he incredibly kind and generous.  So are Matt and Jenni!

Little Tree Cover  Sunny Side Up


Nana in the City Cover
     This next print is by Lauren Castillo, from her sweet book, Nana and the City.  I was a big fan of that book, and I read it every year as a paired text with Matt de la Pena's Last Stop on Market Street.  I met Lauren at an NCTE Nerdy Book Club party, and she is just wonderful!  Do you see a trend here?  Children's authors and illustrators are an amazing group of people!  Nana and the City won a Caldecott Honor Award, which was much deserved!  I love looking at this print, full of happy people on a beautiful fall day in Central Park!

   Last, but not least, I was flabbergasted by Pam Zagarenski's generosity when I saw this beautiful painting on her Instagram and told her I loved it.  She immediately sent me a signed print!  Unbelievable!  I loved it because I was currently reading PAX aloud to my 5th graders, so the fox appealed to me, and my favorite poet is Robert Frost, so the line "Whose woods these are I think I know" melted my heart.  I have yet to get this framed, but I can't wait for it to hang on my classroom wall!  I have several beautiful picture books by Pam, including her 2013 Caldecott Honor winner, Sleep Like a Tiger.

Well, that concludes the tour!  Of course, I'd love to add to my collection.  Some illustrators I'd like to still collect include Erin Stead, Molly Idle, Christian Robinson, Sophie Blackall, Bryan Collier, and more.  Stay tuned!


  1. What lucky students to be inspired by such a collection of art!

  2. WOW!!! This is just amazing Holly!

  3. What a treasure trove of art you have! Authors and illustrators are such generous people.

  4. These are all lovely! I don't know when I have enjoyed an "art crawl" any more than this one. Thank you!

  5. Love this, Holly. I especially enjoy that you have it all in your classroom. How cool!

  6. Oh my goodness, you just added to my life goals for sure! These are beautiful.

  7. These are so wonderful! (Now commence battle with envy.)
    If you have not been there before, you should definitely visit the Mazza Museum in Findlay, Ohio. It has walls covered with picture book art. Fabulous.

  8. What a great way to introduce your students to modern artists and literature together! I'm biased because my son, Evan Turk, is a children's book illustrator and author, but I love that you have framed art in your classroom.