Tag Archives: art

Heroes, artists and a little girl

The Hiding Game by Gwen Strauss, illustration by Herb Leonhard

The main heroes are two men: Varian Fry (sometimes called the American Schindler) and Danny Bénédite (the author’s great uncle). They are working to help refugees escaping from the Nazis.

The artists are some famous people you would study if you took a class on modern art: Max Ernst, Marc Chagall, Marcel Duchamp.

The little girl is Aube, hiding with her father the poet and her mother the painter.

Younger readers can follow along from Aube’s point of view to see life in the safe house (a mixture of art games and spycraft, hunger and danger).

As she is escaping to safety, Aube remembers “how the artist Marcel Duchamp once visited the Villa with a small suitcase. When he opened it, there was a collection of all his favorite artworks, like a miniature museum.” You can see a box like this at the Smart Museum of Art in Chicago.

In Chicago, you can also see art created by Chagall including the outdoor mosaic The Four Seasons and his America Windows at the Art Institute.




Exploring natural history

Summer is a great time to visit museums. We have some books to help you get ready for a museum visit, and we also have books that are like a virtual visit to a natural history museum all in themselves.

Animalium by Jenny Broom; illustrated by Katie Scott
Like Botanicum and Historium, below, this is part of the Welcome the Museum series and has “galleries” of images that are like taking a tour of a museum.

Bees: A Honeyed History by Piotr Socha
Learn about the science of bees and how humans have interacted with them in this unusual book from Poland.

Botanicum by Kathy Willis; illustrated by Katie Scott
Showcases dozens of full-color plants from around the world in a gallery format, complemented by identification information and brief descriptions.

Evolving Planet: Four Billion Years of Life on Earth by Erica Kelly and Richard Kissel
A book published in association with The Field Museum to go along with the Evolving Planet exhibit.

The Field Museum of Natural History by Joy Gregory
This would be a nice introduction before a trip to Chicago to visit the museum. The publisher provides online extras like audio and videos.

Historium by Jo Nelson; illustrated by Richard Wilkinson
Here you will find a collection of objects from ancient civilisations. Objects of beauty, functionality, war, life, death and burial.

How the Meteorite Got to the Museum by Jessica Hartland
From outer space, across the eastern US, to the roof of a car in Peekskill, New York, and thereafter to be verified, tested, and exhibited at the American Museum of Natural History. By the same author: How the Dinosaur Got to the Museum and How the Sphinx Got to the Museum.

The Someday Birds by Sally J. Pla
Charlie is struggling to get through a cross-country trip to see his father, who will undergo brain surgery. He’s coping by checking off birds from the list he and his dad made of all the species they hoped to see someday– at least one of which is rather inconveniently extinct. Perhaps the Field Museum can help?

Want to do more to explore museums? The Field Museum has online resources for educators (the specimens toolkit would pair nicely with The Someday Birds). You can use the Museum Adventure Pass for discounts at some local museums (call the Information Desk for more details). You can also look at Summer’s Free Museum Days in Chicago to find out when there is free or discounted admission at some of the big Chicago museums that aren’t included in the Museum Adventure Pass.


“Everything is art. Everything is politics.” (quote from Ai Weiwei)

This past weekend, my dad and I had a chance to attend Ai Weiwei at Meijer Gardens:
Natural State. Some of the first pieces you see when you walk into the building are large, hollow, white structures in the shapes of gods or supernatural creatures that are hanging from the ceiling.

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This is the description that goes with this collection of artworks:

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I knew Ai Weiwei was an activist, but I did not know the story about his father. It made me think of this book:

Red Kite, Blue Kite by Ji-li Jiang, illustrated by Greg Ruth

In the story, a boy’s father is sent to a labor camp during the Cultural Revolution in China. They make a plan to each fly a kite for the other to see at a certain time every day since they don’t have any other way to communicate. In an author’s note at the back of the book, Ji-li Jiang explains that the picture book was inspired by the personal history of a family friend. In the end, he says, “My friend’s father survived the Cultural Revolution, and my friend grew up and became a poet.”

Red Kite, Blue Kite is one of the books included in our current display for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. It includes children’s books that have received the South Asia Book Award or the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature. Come take a look!

It’s a STEAM-y week

light painting
We have lots of activities to give your brain a workout!  Our weekly storytimes continue, along with Crazy 8s and Minecraft Club on Tuesday and Thursday.  We also have:

Robot Arm
Monday, March 6, 2- 3 p.m.
Grades 4–6
Use coding to program a robotic arm. Register now.

Chess Club
Wednesday, March 8, 4:15-5:15 p.m.
Grades 4-8
Are you a chess enthusiast? Whether your are just beginning or are a seasoned chess player, join us, meet people and play chess! Drop in.

Light Painting
Thursday, March 9, 4:14-5:15 p.m.
Grades 2-5
Use light to “paint” a picture that resembles a hand-drawn sketch. Register now.

Preschool Activity Time
Friday, March 10, 10-11 a.m.
Ages 2-6 with an adult
Meet friends, play with our toys, and have fun during activity time! Drop in.

Saturday Special: Sensory Storytime
Saturday, March 11, 10:30-11:15 a.m.
Ages 2-6 with an adult
Enjoy a special storytime perfect for children with sensory integration issues. Drop in.

Maker Faire
Saturday, March 11, 1-4 p.m.
All ages
Explore our DIY maker scene! See demonstrations of exciting new technologies, meet other makers, learn about career opportunities in the maker field and much more! Drop in.

Picture Book Biographies: Artists

Art from Her Heart: Folk Artist Clementine Hunter by Kathy Whitehead; illustrated by Shane Evans
Clementine Hunter’s paintings went from hanging on her clothesline to hanging in museums, yet because of the color of her skin, a friend had to sneak her in when the gallery was closed.

Draw What You See: The Life and Art of Benny Andrews by Kathleen Benson; illustrated with paintings by Benny Andrews
Looks at the life of the artist Benny Andrews illustrated with his original paintings, from his childhood and youth in rural Georgia, through his studies in Chicago and his activism and artistic success in New York City.

Gordon Parks: How the Photographer Captured Black and White America by Carole Boston Weatherford; illustrations by Jamey Christoph
“Presents the life and accomplishments of the first black director in Hollywood who became the first African American photographer for Life magazine.” – (Baker & Taylor)
This title is also available as an ebook.

In Her Hands: The Story of Sculptor Augusta Savage by Alan Schroeder; illustrated by JaeMe Bereal
“A biography of African American sculptor Augusta Savage, who overcame many obstacles as a young woman to become a premier female sculptor of the Harlem Renaissance. Includes an afterword about Savage‘s adult life and works, plus photographs”–Provided by publisher.

It Jes’ Happened: When Bill Traylor Started to Draw by Don Tate; illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
“A biography of twentieth-century African American folk artist Bill Traylor, a former slave who at the age of eighty-five began to draw pictures based on his memories and observations of rural and urban life in Alabama. Includes an afterword, author’s note, and sources”–Provided by publisher.

A Splash of Red: the life and art of Horace Pippin written by Jen Bryant; illustrated by Melissa Sweet
Presents an illustrated introduction to the life and work of artist Horace Pippin, describing his childhood love for drawing and the World War I injury that challenged his career.  This title is currently nominated for the Monarch Award.  It was also a winner of the Schneider Family Book Award, the NCTE Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children, and a Robert F. Sibert Honor Book.

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Jacob Lawrence

Wendy saw this new book in our collection and pointed it out to me:

Jake Makes a World

Jake Makes a World: Jacob Lawrence, a Young Artist in Harlem
by Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts

It reminded her of an article she had seen about a series of paintings by Jacob Lawrence (usually housed in two different locations) on display for a limited time at the Museum of Modern Art:
(The article has a lot of interesting information about the artist and includes a slide show of some of the paintings).

MOMA has some fantastic online content to go along with the exhibit, both for general audiences and especially for students and teachers.

You can also take a virtual visit through a library book:

The Great Migration
The Great Migration: An American Story
by Jacob Lawrence
Here, the full series of 60 paintings is paired with a poem by Walter Dean Myers and an introduction by the artist himself.

Pretend you’re visiting a different exhibit with these two books:

Harriet and the Promised Land
Harriet and the Promised Land
by Jacob Lawrence

John Brown: One Man Against Slavery
John Brown: One Man Against Slavery
by Gwen Everett, paintings by Jacob Lawrence

You can learn more about the artist’s life, and see a wide range of his paintings in:

Story Painter: The Life of Jacob Lawrence
Story Painter: The Life of Jacob Lawrence
by John Duggleby

Draw Your Fantasy Ride!

Color pencils

Color pencils (Photo credit: Matti Mattila)

Do you like to draw?  Do you like anything that moves down the road, through the air, or over the water?  Then register now for the excellent art program Draw Your Fantasy Ride, with Christine Thornton of Christine Thornton’s Art Studio!  The class will start in the library’s Story Park, where Christine will present a PowerPoint showing drawing techniques for everything you would like to drive or ride in.  Then you’ll move to the Creativity Park and let your imagination run wild!  The class is Wednesday, June 26, from 2:00 – 3:30 p.m.  It is for those entering grades 4 – 8, with a strict limit of 30, so sign up now for this unique art experience and create a masterpiece of motion!