Wings of an Artist
Introduction by: Jule Cummins
Activity Guide by Barbara Kiefer
Pages: 32
Publisher/Date: Harry N. Abrams/1999
ISBN: 0810945525
Age Levels: All

Book Review

Imagine for a moment that you bring together twenty or so children's book illustrators and ask them to explain in words and pictures: "What gives flight to an artist's imagination?" This is exactly what Wings of an Artist does. The result is a mosaic of exquisite illustrations and writing that are both inspired and inspiring.

In the oversized pages, Leo and Diane Dillon discuss how they created a new version of Mother Goose. (They gave her a flying machine so she could "soar amongst the clouds with her beloved geese to faraway lands with new tales to tell.")

Maurice Sendak talks about doodling. It is, he writes, "an excellent exercise for stirring up the unconscious, just as you would stir up some mysterious soup all the while hoping it tastes good."

In prose and pictures, David Catrow relates to the reader his confrontation with his first editor—his first-grade art teacher. And Graeme Base "shows off" a shimmering illustration of Finny, Pearl, and Bert, three undersea characters from The Sign of the Seahorse.

The book concludes with "Invitations to Fly," eleven well-thought-out and enriching activities.

Classroom Experiences: The classroom uses for this book are countless. In one third grade classroom we read aloud from the book then discussed how the various artists used line, shape, and even color to create certain feelings in the reader. In a second grade classroom we compared and contrasted two different artists. We then did an in-depth "author/illustrator study" of Maurice Sendak.

Reviewed by the teachers at Education Oasis
©2003 Education Oasis

About the Authors

Jule Cummins is the coordinator of Children's Services at The New York Public Library. She also teaches children's literature at Pratt Library School in Brooklyn and has served as jurist for several prestigious children's book exhibitions and awards.

Barbara Kiefer, Ph.D., is associate professor of children's literature and reading at Teachers College, Columbia University, New York. She served on the 1987 Caldecott Medal committee and is chairperson of the 2000 Caldecott Medal committee. Author of The Potential of Picture Books: From Visual Literacy to Aesthetic Understanding and co-author of Children's Literature in the Elementary School, Sixth Edition, Kiefer has taught elementary school, grades 1-5.


Illustrators include:

Graeme Base
David Catrow
David Diaz
Diane Dillon
Leo Dillon
Henrik Drescher
Richard Egielski
Lou Fancher
Diane Greenseid
Woodleigh Hubbard
Susan Jeffers
Steve Johnson
William Joyce
Maira Kalman
Susan Meddaugh
Michael McCurdy
Paul Meisel
James Ransome
Robert Sabuda
Maurice Sendak
David Small
Jean Tseng
Mou-Sien Tseng