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Notes from a Children's Librarian: Drawing the Line

Our Children's Librarian columnist, Julie Booker, brings us a new view from the stacks every month.

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Developing an understanding of line as a design element is part of the visual arts curriculum. These books are pitched primarily at a K-3 audience.

1 2 3 I Can Draw!, by Irene Luxbacher, is a superb teaching tool. Beginning with a visual list of necessary materials, it shows different types of lines, how to create drawings out of shapes, and how to construct different facial expressions. The books moves on to simple figure drawing, adding movement and texture. The grand finale: how to put all the techniques together. There’s a note to teachers and a pictorial index.

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For K-2, Scribble, by Ruth Ohi, begins with a scribbly line invading a group of shapes. The scribble asks the shapes to play, convincing them they’d be better off with a line. The line becomes waves, a tether, a beast, and eventually, the binding factor in a final picture.

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In A Squiggly Story, by Andrew Larsen, illustrated by Mike Lowery, a younger brother pretends to write words like his sister—his lines are swirls and squiggles. An O becomes a soccer ball. Dots become sand. V’s become waves and a shark fin. His doodles grow into the story of a shark biting a soccer ball and a rocket ship to Mars. 

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To encourage risk-taking, Ish, by Peter A. Reynolds, follows Ramon as he loses confidence in his drawings…until he discovers his sister has created a gallery of his crumpled up pictures. One of her favourites looks vase-ish. Suddenly, Ramon is free to draw loose lines, producing a whole whack of "ish" drawings: house-ish, fish-ish, excited-ish.

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Cary Fagan’s I Wish I Could Draw is a clever book which, on first glance, looks like an exercise book overtaken with doodles. Narrated by Fagan, a self-confessed bad drawer, this humourous take on attempting to draw uses positive self-talk as the author documents the process of drawing things he likes. He then draws himself into a story, as a character with mandolin skills great enough to save his family from a scary dragon. Fagan muses at the end that the the whole process might make a cool book and inspires readers to draw their “own stinky pictures” to ultimately be shared with the author. A fun, inspiring read. 

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One Piece of String, by Martha Jocelyn is aimed at the kindergarten audience. This simple board book depicts paper collages incorporating a single white string. On various backgrounds, the string becomes a snail, a clothesline, a rabbit, hair, spaghetti, lightning. By the end, all kinds of lines have been shown: zigzag, wavy, straight, spiral.

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Threads, by Torill Kove, uses lines as threads that connect us. The figures are simple line drawings, joined by lines. Threads drop from the tops of pages—an invitation to be pulled. A mother and child are connected with a single strand of red, which eventually leads out into the world. This one begs for an art project up to grade 6. (It’s also a NFB short film.) Draw/pick a thread and follow it...where will it lead you?

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On her first day as teacher-librarian, Julie Booker was asked by a five-year-old if that was her real name. She's felt at home in libraries since her inaugural job as a Page in the Toronto Public Library. She is the author of Up Up Up, a book of short stories published by House of Anansi Press.

August 8, 2019

Books mentioned in this post

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123 I Can Draw!

illustrated by Irene Luxbacher
edition: Paperback
also available: Hardcover
  • age: 4 to 7
  • Grade: p to 2
tagged: drawing

Illustrated step-by-step projects include drawing people, self-portraits, shapes, expressions, textures and more. Budding artists will proudly say, “I can draw!”

Encouraging play and experimentation with everyday materials and tools, Starting Art unlocks the creative spirit in every young child. This excellent new series offers unique clear and …

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Scribble

illustrated by Ruth Ohi
edition: Hardcover
also available: Paperback
  • age: 3 to 8
  • Grade: p to 3
tagged: humorous stories

 

Circle, Square and Triangle are doing just fine — but when Scribble draws them together, their imaginations soar.

Circle loves to roll — around and around. Solid Square likes to sit still and strong. Triangle can celebrate all her good points, and always knows which direction to go. But when Scribble suddenly dashes through their ordered world …

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Squiggly Story, A

by Andrew Larsen, illustrated by Mike Lowery
edition: Hardcover
  • age: 3 to 7
  • Grade: p to 2
tagged: imagination & play, humorous stories

A young boy wants to write a story, just like his big sister. But there's a problem, he tells her. Though he knows his letters, he doesn't know many words. “Every story starts with a single word and every word starts with a single letter,” his sister explains patiently. “Why don't you start there, with a letter?” So the boy tries. He writes …

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Ish

illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
edition: Hardcover
  • age: 5 to 9
  • Grade: k to 4
tagged: hispanic & latino, self-esteem & self-reliance, art & architecture

A creative spirit learns that thinking “ish-ly” is far more wonderful than “getting it right” in this gentle fable from the creator of the award-winning picture book The Dot.

Ramon loved to draw. Anytime. Anything. Anywhere.

Drawing is what Ramon does. It's what makes him happy. But in one split second, all that changes. A single reckless rem …

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I Wish I Could Draw

illustrated by Cary Fagan
edition: Hardcover
also available: eBook
  • age: 5 to 8
  • Grade: k to 3
tagged: imagination & play, art & architecture

When the narrator of this sneakily clever book decides he will try to draw even though he believes he isn’t very good at it, a world of silly possibilities opens for him. By the end of the story, he has vanquished a dragon, been given a medal, published a book, and seen his artwork on display in a real museum—and all because he refused to be he …

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One Piece of String

by (artist) Marthe Jocelyn
edition: Hardcover
also available: eBook
  • age: 0 to 2
  • Grade: p
tagged: imagination & play, size & shape

One piece of string comes untied from a parcel and changes into a spider's web, a ropy updo, a layer of snow on a birdhouse roof, and other surprises.

Illustrated using Jocelyn's delightful paper collage, this wordless board book invites little ones to follow along and discover that each spread is made up of one single piece! This is a book that wil …

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Threads

by Torill Kove
edition: Hardcover
  • age: 7 to 11
  • Grade: 2 to 6
tagged:

National Film Board of Canada Collection

A masterfully illustrated exploration of the beauty and complexity of parental love.

In Torill Kove's delicate and moving story, a woman joins her peers to grasp for threads dangling from the sky, each representing an unknown opportunity. Our protagonist snags a particularly special looking thread and is whi …

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