The Scraps Book
Notes from a Colorful Life
by Lois Ehlert
Scroll down to find Related Activities & Resources, Book Talk Teasers, Read Alikes, and Book Reviews.
RELATED ACTIVITIES & RESOURCES
Reading Rocket’s interview of Lois Ehlert (41:00):
Reading Rocket’s extended interview of Lois Ehlert (15:34):
Reading Is Fundamental interview of Lois Ehlert:
The Horn Book’s Interview of Lois Ehlert:
McGraw Hill’s Author of the Month article on Lois Ehlert:
Lois Ehlert’s Planting a Rainbow activities:
Lois Ehlert’s Leaf Man activities:
Lois Ehlert’s Leaf Man printable stickers:
Links to activities related to Lois Ehlert books:
50+ Collage ideas:
Try making a mask, a fish bowl, or a bird feeder as shown in The Scraps Book.
Take a walk outside and see what materials you could use to make a collage.
BOOK TALK TEASERS
Read readers theater.
Read the inside cover of The Scraps Book.
Display objects from nature and let the kids arrange them to make pictures.
Books in which artists look back at their works:
Bang, Molly. Picture this. The illustrator of a retelling of “Little Red Riding Hood” provides a step-by-step account of her work to reveal the principles of illustration and the role of shape and color in expressing ideas and emotions. (NoveList)
Bryan, Ashley. Words to my life’s song. Told through drawings and photographs, the author’s inspiring autobiography demonstrates his love for art and drawing which always sustained him even though he was turned away from art school because of his color, grew up through the Great Depression, and served his country in World War II. (NoveList)
Close, Chuck. Chuck Close. Presents an autobiography about the author’s artistic life, describing the creative processes he uses in the studio and his struggles with his disabilities. Includes a self-portrait mix-and-match section with divided pages to flip, that demonstrates his techniques and images. (NoveList)
De Paola, Tomie. The art lesson. Having learned to be creative in drawing pictures at home, young Tommy is dismayed when he goes to school and finds the art lesson there much more regimented. (NoveList)
Ehlert, Lois. Hands: Growing up to be an artist. A child observes and assists Mom and Dad as they work with wood, sew, and garden, and as a result is inspired to become an artist. (NoveList)
Sis, Peter. The wall: growing up behind the Iron Curtain. Annotated illustrations, journals, maps, and dreamscapes take readers on an extraordinary journey of how the artist-author’s life was shaped while growing up in Czechoslovakia during the Cold War, as well as the influence of western culture through the influx of banned books, music, and news, in a powerful graphic memoir. (NoveList)
Other books about artists:
Anholt, Laurence. Camille and the sunflowers. Despite the derision of their neighbors, a young French boy and his family befriend the lonely painter who comes to their town and begin to admire his unusual paintings. (NoveList)
Bryant, Jen. A splash of red: the life and art of Horace Pippin. 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. (NoveList)
Carle, Eric. The artist who painted a blue horse. Rather than use the same old colors, a child paints animals and objects in a variety of different hues. Includes biographical information about the German painter Franz Marc, who created unconventional animal paintings in the early 1900s. (NoveList)
Corbett, Sue. Cornelia Funke. Presents the biography of children’s book author Cornelia Funke while exploring her creative process as a writer and illustrator and the cultural impact of her work. (NoveList)
Frith, Margaret. Frida Kahlo: the artist who painted herself. Biography of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, written as a child’s school report. (NoveList)
Greenburg, Jan. Action Jackson. Imagines Jackson Pollock at work during the creation of one of his paint-swirled and splattered canvasses. (NoveList)
Hong, Chen Jiang. The magic horse of Han Gan. Master artist Han Gan’s painted horse comes alive to help save ancient China from attack. (NoveList)
Markel, Michelle. The fantastic jungles of Henri Rousseau. Presents a biography of French artist Henri Rousseau, who spent his life as a toll collector, but created unheralded masterpieces in his spare time. (NoveList)
Parker, Marjorie Blain. Colorful dreamer: the story of artist Henri Matisse. A look at the life of French artist Henri Matisse. (NoveList)
Polacco, Patricia. The art of Miss Chew. Describes how a teacher named Miss Chew encouraged individuality, and accepted learning differences, and helped a young student with academic difficulties get extra time to take tests and permission to be in advanced art classes. Inspired by the author’s memories of her art teacher. (NoveList)
Ray, Deborah Kogan. Wanda Gag. As soon as Wanda learned to draw, she dreamed of becoming an artist. But when her father died, a teenaged Wanda put her family before her art, taking care of her ailing mother and six siblings. When she knew that her family could support themselves, she finally attained her dream, winning a scholarship to a famous art school in New York City. (NoveList)
Rodriguez, Rachel Victoria. Through Georgia’s eyes. Discusses the influence of nature and color on the American artist and how she demonstrated these feelings through her paintings. (NoveList)
Wing, Natasha. An eye for color: the story of Josef Albers. The painter Joseph Albers saw art in simple things. Late in his career, he began painting squares of solid, unmixed color, one within another. (NoveList)
Winter, Jeanette. Henri’s scissors. Describes the artist’s early sketching hobby, famous paintings, and the illness that confined him to a wheelchair and inspired his sophisticated paper-cutout masterworks. (NoveList)
The Scraps Book: Notes from a Colorful Life.
Ehlert, Lois (author). Illustrated by Lois Ehlert.
Mar. 2014. 72p. Simon & Schuster/Beach Lane, hardcover, $17.99 (9781442435711). Grades 1-4. 741.6.
REVIEW. First published January 1, 2014 (Booklist).
Ehlert offers a highly visual presentation of her roots as an artist and her process as a writer and illustrator of picture books. She describes growing up with “parents who made things with their hands.” They encouraged her to do the same, providing her with good tools and a place to work as well as leftover fabrics, buttons, and wood scraps. Later, she went to art school and began to create picture books. Simply written and inviting, the text leads readers to understand her approach to creating books as well as her hands-on involvement with art throughout her life. Ehlert guides readers through the making of picture books, including gathering ideas, writing, creating storyboards, and making collages. Admirers of her clean, precise pictures may be surprised to read, “I’m messy when I work.” Illustrated with photos from her childhood, vivid artwork from her books, and found objects that she has incorporated into her collages, the colorful pages of this “portrait of the artist” are visually riveting. Creative children will find inspiration and encouragement here. And, short of a personal visit from the writer herself, this is the best resource available for any classroom doing an author/artist study on Ehlert and her distinctive books. — Carolyn Phelan
Bulletin of Center for Children’s Books:
Ehlert, Lois. The Scraps Book: Notes from a Colorful Life. Illustrated by Lois Ehlert. March 2014
Trade ed. ISBN 978-1-4424-3571-1
E-book ed. ISBN 978-1-4424-3572-8
Noted illustrator Ehlert offers a casually organized look at her artistic process, with very brief explanations of how she got started making art and books and how she gets ideas for her art and books, along with some quick looks at the materials and basic steps she goes through in constructing a picture or a book. Kids (or adults) looking for specific instructions for making similar art or straightforward biographical info will not find it here, but those who enjoy getting a glimpse into the creative lives of artists and writers will appreciate the insider’s perspective Ehlert provides. Illustrations from some of Ehlert’s previous books are interspersed with new collages, sketches of ideas and book layouts, and photographs of Ehlert as a child and adult, of her studio, of objects that have inspired her work, and of her various collections of artistic and natural items. The narration is somewhat meandering; the compositions, while eye-catching and vibrant, are crammed into a small trim size, and some of the pictures would have benefited from further explanation. The simple text, though, could easily either be read aloud to a group (although some of the smaller illustrative details may not translate well to a crowd) or read alone by upper primary or middle graders. This could also be a pleasant and accessible addition to a unit on artists or writers for the same age group.
[STARRED] The Scraps Book: Notes from a Colorful Life
by Lois Ehlert; illus. by the author
Primary Beach Lane/Simon 72 pp.
3/14 978-1-4424-3571-1 $17.99
e-book ed. 978-1-4424-3572-8 $10.99
In a generously illustrated picture book memoir, Ehlert speaks directly to her audience, particularly readers who like collecting objects and making things. Aptly titled, the book is jam-packed with art from her books and photos from her life, beginning with pictures of her parents, the house she grew up in, and the small wooden table where she was encouraged to pursue her own art projects. Along the way, we see how autobiographical her books have been. There are her mother’s scissors and her father’s tools (used in Hands, rev. 9/97), and her sister’s cat (the star of Feathers for Lunch, rev. 11/90). The small, square volume uses the same distinctive typeface seen in most of Ehlert’s books and serves as a reminder of her unique color sense and recurring subjects: flowers, leaves, fruits and vegetables, cats and birds. In addition to the large text for children, she includes smaller hand-written notes to fill in details, much as her books use a smaller sans serif text to label birds, plants, etc. We are treated to a description of her creative process including reproductions of thumbnail illustrations and detailed sketches. In the final stage of building collages, she uses whatever is at hand and enjoys making messes. “I use old tools to create texture; I splash paint with a toothbrush or rub a crayon over my grater.” Ehlert emerges as a woman who lives a good life surrounded by the objects and colors that make her happy. She wants the same for her readers, ending the book with “I wish you a colorful life!” LOLLY ROBINSON
(March/April 2014 Horn Book Magazine)
Reprinted from The Horn Book Magazine by permission of The Horn Book, Inc., www.hbook.com
School Library Journal:
★Ehlert, Lois. The Scraps Book: Notes from a Colorful Life. illus. by Lois Ehlert. 72p. photos. reprods. S & S/Beach Lane. Mar. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781442435711; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9781442435728. LC 2012041869.
Gr 2-5–Ehlert continues to enchant children with her inventive picture books. In this charming autobiography, she gives readers a fascinating glimpse into her creative process and her considerable talents as both an author and an illustrator are on full display. When discussing the fact that a career doesn’t happen immediately, she states, “Everyone needs time to develop their dreams. An egg in the nest doesn’t become a bird overnight.” Each and every page pops with her signature collages as she gives examples of her various techniques. “I use odd items to create texture. I splatter paint with a toothbrush or rub a crayon over my grater.” This book will attract browsers, thrill children who already love her work, be the perfect complement to an author/illustrator study, and is a stellar introduction to graphic design at its finest. A small masterpiece that is a delight for the eye and ear.–Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ