Emily’s Blue Period
by Cathleen Daly and Illustrated by Lisa Brown
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RELATED ACTIVITIES & RESOURCES
Author’s twitter feed:
Lesson plan on Picasso – Kids creating Picasso style art:
Murphy’s Picasso WebQuest by Steven Murphy:
Create your own Picassohead:
My Feelings WebQuest:
Brainpop – Divorce Lesson Plans and Ideas:
PBS Kids – Divorce information, lessons, quiz:
BOOK TALK TEASERS
Read the inside flap.
Also by Cathleen Daly:
Daly, Cathleen. Flirt club. Through notes and journal entries, best friends and self-proclaimed “drama geeks” Cisco (Izzy) and the Bean (Annie) write of the trials of middle school, as well as their efforts to attract boys by forming a Flirt Club. (NoveList Plus)
Daly, Cathleen. Prudence wants a pet. Prudence wants a pet so much that she adopts a branch, a twig, a tire, and even a shoe named Formal Footwear, but none is a suitable pet for Prudence. (NoveList Plus)
Children of Divorced Parents (Subject Appeal):
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Levins, Sandra. Was it the chocolate pudding? A little boy learns that he did not cause his parent’s divorce because of the mess he made with chocolate pudding, and describes his new life living with his dad and seeing his mom on weekends. (NoveList Plus)
Ransom, Jeanie Franz. I don’t want to talk about it. After reluctantly talking with her parents about their upcoming divorce, a young girl discovers that there will be some big changes but that their love for her will remain the same. Includes an afterword for parents on helping children through such a change. (NoveList Plus)
Say, Allen. The favorite daughters. Yuriko, teased at school for her unusual name and Japanese ancestry, yearns to be more ordinary until her father reminds her of how special she is. (NoveList Plus)
Schmitz, Tamara. Standing on my own two feet. Addison is a regular kid whose parents are going through a divorce, but he knows that no matter what happens, his parents will always love him, showing kids that having two homes to live in can be just as great as having two strong feet to stand on. (NoveList Plus)
Stanton, Karen. Monday, Wednesday, and every other weekend. Although Henry enjoys the time he spends at his mother’s apartment and his father’s house, his dog Pomegranate gets confused about which place is home. (NoveList Plus)
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Unhappiness (Subject Appeal):
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Maltbie, P. I. Picasso and Minou. The artist Pablo Picasso’s cat Minou influences him to discontinue his Blue Period style of painting to begin creating works that will sell more quickly. Includes brief notes on Picasso’s life and work. (NoveList Plus)
Winter, Jonah. Just behave, Pablo Picasso! Presents a tribute to the modern artist master that explains how he rebelled creatively against his many critics and disregarded the opinions of his contemporaries to paint according to his own inspiration. (NoveList Plus)
Picasso Non-Fiction (Subject Appeal):
Kelley, True. Who was Pablo Picasso? Highlights the life and work of innovative artist Pablo Picasso, who founded the movement known as Cubism. (NoveList Plus)
Venezia, Mike. Pablo Picasso. Clever illustrations and story lines, together with full-color reproductions of actual paintings, give children a light yet realistic overview of each artist’s life and style in these fun and educational books. (Goodreads)
Emily’s Blue Period. Daly, Cathleen (author). Illustrated by Lisa Brown. June 2014. 56p. Roaring Brook, hardcover, $17.99 (9781596434691). K-Grade 3.
REVIEW. First published July, 2014 (Booklist).
Aspiring artist Emily is trying to make sense of her life, which right now is all in pieces, since her mom and dad don’t live together any more. In school, she learns about Picasso and his different artistic styles. For instance, in his cubism period, faces and objects aren’t where you’d expect them to be (neither is dad—he has moved out). Things are all mixed up, just the way Emily feels. So she enters her “blue period,” and it lasts quite a while. However, when her teacher presents collage in art class, Emily has an idea. She borrows and collects significant things, and cuts and glues them into a big, soggy, and beautiful collage, combining all she loves about her family and home into a heart-shaped picture. Artwork in the five brief chapters includes some clever examples mirroring Picasso’s styles, and each scene shows details of Emily’s character and her world. During the blue period, tones are gray and black and blue, but the final colorful collage invites children to find all the parts of Emily’s life. Artful.— Lolly Gepson
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books:
Daly, Cathleen. Emily’s Blue Period. Illustrated by Lisa Brown. September 2014
Emily, a devotee of Picasso, may enjoy mixing things up in her art, but she’s not happy when it’s her family that’s mixed up and her father leaves the house to live “in his own little cube” of an apartment. Emily’s funk affects her painting, sending her into her own version of Picasso’s Blue Period. An assignment in art class (“I want you to make a collage of your house”) leads her into introspection about the nature of her home, and it’s this work that eventually allows her to make peace with the new arrangement. The clipped text has a robust and knowing energy that makes this a bracing complement to more tender stories of post-split adjustment (Stanton’s Monday, Wednesday, and Every Other Weekend, BCCB 2/14); Emily’s artistry is treated appreciatively, and her relationship with her little brother, Jack (who’s also none too pleased about the family developments) adds both humor and authenticity. The book’s format is a cross between a picture book and an early reader, with a trim size between the two, chapter breaks dividing the sparely texted episodes, and much of the dialogue appearing in speech bubbles. The art doesn’t always match the imagination of the text, but the focused, modest scenes set against copious white space add accessibility, and there’s effective pacing in the shifting layouts that move between busy assemblages of spot art and the occasional dramatic double-page spread (as when an angry Jack loses it mid-store). While this could inspire some art projects for kids who want to symbolically represent their own lives, it’s also a nicely underplayed look at family change that will speak to many youngsters’ experience.
[STARRED] Emily’s Blue Period by Cathleen Daly; illus. by Lisa Brown
Primary Porter/Roaring Brook 56 pp.
6/14 978-1-59643-469-1 $17.99
Young Emily is an artist—a fact thoroughly established, visually, from title page on. She draws and she paints; she pores over art books. In school, she is learning about Pablo Picasso, and his work and career make a surprisingly apt frame for this story of divorce, told in five chapters. Like the faces in Picasso paintings during his cubist period, expected elements are not where they are supposed to be (“Emily’s dad is no longer where he belongs. Suddenly, he lives in his own little cube”); Emily’s sadness over the changes in her family pushes her into her own blue period; later, an assignment to make a collage of her house helps her make sense of the situation (collage is “how you take things from different places to make a whole”). Daly (Prudence Wants a Pet, rev. 7/11) has a gift for taking familiar childhood experiences and elevating them into, well, art. Here her affecting but unsentimental story is elegantly supported by Brown’s simple pencil and watercolor illustrations and innovative book design. Inventively, the end of one chapter segues seamlessly into the beginning of the next on the same double-page spread. Dialogue is often indicated simply with circles penciled around text: instant speech balloons. This is a heartfelt, relatable, and even sometimes funny picture book (especially when Emily’s little brother Jack has a meltdown in a furniture store). It’s also empowering for readers struggling with similar situations, as Emily figures out a way to redefine her idea of home—herself, through the making of art. MARTHA V. PARRAVANO
(July/August 2014 Horn Book Magazine)
Reprinted from The Horn Book Magazine by permission of The Horn Book, Inc., www.hbook.com
School Library Journal:
★Daly, Cathleen. Emily’s Blue Period. illus. by Lisa Brown. 56p. Roaring Brook/Neal Porter. Jun. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781596434691. LC 2013016727.
Gr 1-3–A lovely, contemplative picture book. The text is short, with no more than a few sentences per page, but the writing is evocative and does a wonderful job of portraying the complicated emotions and behaviors experienced by children during confusing times. Divided into five vignettes labeled as chapters, the story is that of Emily, a young girl who loves art—particularly Pablo Picasso’s unique way of portraying the world through cubism. When her parents separate, both she and her younger brother struggle to cope with the new reality. This book does a beautiful job of using the arts to show Emily’s process as she grieves, accepts, and adapts to the changes in her family. The pencil and watercolor illustrations are appropriately muted, sticking to a soft blue, green, and brown color scheme with highlights of yellow and red. The subtle addition of some digital imagery creates lively, relatable illustrations. Despite the difficulties that Emily’s family may be having, their imperfect life is full of love, and that comes through in both art and text. This is not a straightforward “What is divorce” story but rather a window into one girl’s complicated emotional journey. It’s a first purchase for libraries that have a section of picture books for older readers, and a high-quality, nondidactic book for parents and caregivers looking to start conversations about divorce.–Anna Haase Krueger, Ramsey County Library, MN