Wednesday, April 8, 2015

What Do You See?

Today I'm sharing a few books that focus on seeing or making something to see. 

Some of my practice papel picado
by Carmen Lomas Garza

Goodreads summary: Author Carmen Lomas Garza is a pioneer in popularizing the traditional Mexican craft of papel picado in the United States and developing it into a sophisticated art form. This workbook shows children and their families how to create these beautiful papel picado designs and banners by simply folding and cutting tissue paper. Children will learn how to craft eight different traditional designs, including The Four Cardinal Points, a design reminiscent of the four points of a compass; Tiles, echoing the colorful hand-painted tiles that decorate many Mexican buildings; and The Fan, one of the artist's favorite designs, consisting of leaves, hummingbirds, and flowers.

My thoughts: Last year for El día de los niños/El día de los libros, my students and I made simple papel picado to help decorate the entrance of our school. When I was looking at the Pura Belpré winners later, I saw Magic Windows by Carmen Lomas Garza. That led me to what appears to be this companion book Making Magic Windows. She gives step-by-step instructions for creating wonderful papel picado with scissors or even with a craft knife. I don't know if I will go that far, but I may invite some of the older students to try this more complicated cutting this year rather than the more simple designs we used before. I had a fun time trying out some of her designs.

Review copy: Public library book

Photographs by Sarah C. Campbell and Richard P. Campbell

Goodreads summary: We see familiar shapes in nature all around us—this orange looks like a sphere, that icicle a cone, those cucumbers are almost cylinders. But trees, clouds, or broccoli—what shapes are they? In this photo-filled conceptual picture book, young readers will not only get an introduction to those amazing and naturally repeating patterns called fractals, but they’ll also learn about what makes fractals unique. Curious kids will leave with a sense of wonder about the intricacies of the natural world and the many shapes around us!

My thoughts: I was excited to get this book if for no other reason than explaining what "frozen fractals" are and why they may be "all around" as we learned in Disney's Frozen. The photographs in the book are gorgeous and make the subject easy to understand. The text is written on quite a simple level and could be used even with primary grades. I had thought it would be aimed only at upper grades, but am happily mistaken. I can see that it would be fun to start drawing fractals after reading this.

Review copy: Purchased

Photos Framed: A Fresh Look at the World's Most Memorable Photographs 
by Ruth Thomson

Goodreads summary: Photographs can be beautiful or harrowing, honest or manipulative, dramatic or comforting. Photos Framed explores twenty-seven of the most important and vivid photos taken over the medium’s history, from a formal portrait of Louis Daguerre taken in 1844 to a candid shot of a Cuban girl and her doll in 2011. Readers are invited to use their powers of observation to zoom in on photographic elements, blow up details of the subject matter, think about the big picture, and pan out on the photographer. Photos Framed will open viewers’ eyes to the art of photography and its power to tell a story.

My thoughts: Many of the photos in this book will be familiar to readers and so will catch their attention. It's great to have some back story to the photos and to learn a bit about the photographers that took them. In addition to providing information, the book also asks the reader to think about many questions as they look at the photos. The questions don't necessarily have a right or wrong answer and no answer is provided. The questions may lead to some fantastic thinking or discussion in a classroom. When I read the book I immediately thought about our 5th grade unit on photo essays. The book would help in their discussion of photography used for storytelling and persuasion. There are sections breaking the photos into portraits, nature, art, and documentary. I found the photographs and text to be fascinating and am eager to share it with our art teacher and the fifth grade unit also.

Review copy: Copy via publisher (Candlewick)


  1. I've always wanted to do paper cut art. I've admired it since I looked for a wedding ketubah. While we didn't land up getting a cut-paper ketubah, I admire their exquisite detail. One day -- after I retire but before my vision goes south -- I hope to learn the art of paper cutting.

    1. You got me curious and I went to look for a cut-paper ketubah sample. Some are so beautiful. Wow.