Welcome to Nonfiction Monday! I’m sharing a piece of near-final?art from my forthcoming Water Can Be… (Millbrook Press, 2014) today. A while back, I shared a couple of wonderful sketches from the illustrator, Violeta Dabija. Recently, Carol Hinz, my super-smart Millbrook editor, sent along a piece of almost-final art to look at, and it’s art of one of the sketches I shared, which is extra fun.
How gorgeous is that? ?I think it’s so cool to be able to see bits of the art as it progresses. Sketches here, a cover there. And even as much I enjoy those, they don’t compare to how beautiful the actual printed book is when it arrives. I am so happy to have Violeta as a collaborator on this book. Her work in A Leaf Can Be… still amazes me. (And I should have good news to share soon about a third collaboration!)
Sharing A Leaf Can Be… with kids recently and thinking about Violeta’s art has had me ruminating on just how crucial the art is in a nonfiction picture book. It has to engage kids, delight adults, and be accurate. And in the case of super-short nonfiction, like Leaf and Water, it actually has to present some of the content. “Skin welter,” for instance, wouldn’t be clear to a lot of kids without the illustration of poky leaves and a kid with a rash! So the illustrations really have a lot of jobs to do–just like leaves:>)
My website has teaching guides and extension materials for Leaf, but I also thought I’d share a few possible classroom activities you could use with Leaf or other brief nonfiction books.
1) Read a brief nonfiction book aloud without showing the art. Discuss the content/meaning of the book.
- Now read it again and, after each spread, ask kids to describe what they think the art could/should show.
- Talk about which spreads are hard to understand without looking at the art.
- Or have them do their own illustrations, based solely on the text! Then show the art.
- Have them look at the art carefully and discuss what the art shows that wasn’t even included in the words.
2) Brainstorm together and write a simple nonfiction piece about something at school, like how the lunchroom works. Write one sentence of your piece on each piece of drawing paper. Divide your class into groups, and have each group illustrate its sentence. Share the drawings and talk about all the different ways they could show each simple sentence.
3) Take a wordless picture book or coffee table book. Select a set of pages and share them with your class. Then, individually or in groups, come up with one sentence for each picture.
Abby the Librarian has the Nonfiction Monday roundup. Go learn something fun!