by Joan Waites
While planning out an upcoming class session, I pulled out many of my favorite picture books, fairy Tales and Mother Goose collections for inspiration. The class is titled “Story Art” where students will learn about the art of children’s book illustration, and how to illustrate an original story of their own.
The job of an illustrator is to not only depict what is written in the story, but to offer the reader a visual surprise-a twist, a hidden element or another parallel story happening in the illustrations so the child will want to come back to the book over and over again.
Using the above concept, have your students try their hand at illustrating a short Mother Goose rhyme. In most classic Mother Goose books we see an image of Humpty Dumpty sitting perched on a wall, or perhaps broken in pieces after he tumbles down. But how and why did he fall? Was he pushed? Was he dancing a jig on the ledge and slipped? Trying to ice skate? There are limitless possibilities for your students to imagine and have fun drawing.
What about Little Bo-Peep? Where did those sheep go when she was trying to find them? What were they doing? Why did Jack jump over the candlestick? What was he trying to reach on the other side? Are the characters in the rhymes human or animals?
Expanding on this idea even further, have students write an original story to go along with the art they have created for the rhyme. A perfect example of this is the picture book And the Dish Ran Away with the Spoon by Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel Harcourt Children's Books; 1st edition (May 1, 2001). Each night in the story, the rhyme Hey Diddle Diddle is performed. Dish and Spoon return after they run away, and the characters complete the rhyme in the same way over and over again. But one night, Dish and Spoon run away and don’t come back, leading the other characters on a desperate chase to find them. We are lead through this humorous tale of what happened to them and how their friends come to the rescue.
Have students share their illustrations and stories with the class. Perhaps the mystery of why Humpty Dumpty had a great fall will be revealed!
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