Saturday, March 5, 2011

Happy Birthday Chris Raschka - March 6

Happy Birthday Chris Raschka - March 6

"His minimalist approach, that ability to say so much with one wild, graceful squiggle here and one loose dab of line there and unbridled, vigorous sweeps of color all over, all which add up to Raschka's inimitable quirky style. His impressionist style leaps off the page with an infectious energy, affection, humor, and -most importantly- what comes across as a keen since of respect for the child reader. "  This quote is from the introduction of a must-read interview with Chris Raschka conducted by the amazing, Seven Impossible Things blog.  When I read this I felt there was no better way to describe the experience you will have when you read his books.  And there are many to choose from including the Caldecott Honor Book he wrote and illustrated, Yo! Yes? and the Caldecott Medal Winner he illustrated for Norton Juster, The Hello, Goodbye Window.

My daughter and I had only read two books by Chris Raschka before this week. Waffle, a story about the emotions of conquering your fears, and The Purple Balloon, a book for families of a child with a life-threatening illness.  We reread these two books this week to introduce them to my son for the first time.  In Waffle, we loved the smiley faces that were on every turn of the page that appear to be laughing at the man as he struggles with his uncertainty.  We loved the smiley faces because they were fun to count not because they were unsupportive of the man as he "waffled"! For, The Purple Balloon I showed them the following video before the reading:



I must have watched this video a half dozen times.  I was moved by the emotion that went into creating this book.  Watching Raschka use a potato to make prints then add subtle brush strokes to give each balloon feelings was inspiring and emotional.  My daughter understands, in a five year old way, the idea of hospice because her grandmother is a nurse at a hospice facility.  However, she asked while reading the book, "How can someone young die?"  My answer was "Some children are really sick. Some children have cancer."  Then, I borrowed some words from Chris Raschka when I said, "And when this happens it is good for the family to have many people there to help."

After watching The Purple Balloon video I also showed this video to my children about how Chris Raschka starts his books as "little book dummies":



We mashed all these ideas together; potato prints, little book dummies, smiley faces and balloons to make our own book to celebrate Christ Raschka's birthday:

First, I tore large pieces of art paper into a manageable size.
We used watercolor paints from tiny tubes that we had from an art set.
Then we stamped and stamped until all the pages of our book were covered!
We even cut potatoes into triangles and rectangles.
I punched holes along the side and to bind book together with fancy pipe cleaners.
My daughter went with a balloon theme and she was compelled to add dialogue.
My son gave all the circles smiley faces.

Upon completion my son said, "Who is going to buy my book?"  Later on, when mom came home, he said, "Mom, I am an author now."  They ended up giving the books to their grandma to keep in her library of children's books at her house. Now they will be able to read their books every time they visit.

In closing, I only have mentioned a few of the books that I read this week by Chris Raschka. I really enjoyed The Blushful Hippopotamus because it reminded me of my son and how his big sister treats him sometimes.  I actually didn't have time to read all the books that were available at my libraries.  Here are the books that are on my list to read:







Many of Chris Raschka's books were added to our list for the Picture Book Reading Challenge sponsored by There's a Book!  Click Here to see what else we have been reading!




Links:

1. Chris Raschka describes how his books start - YouTube
2. Chris Raschka at Art Institute of Chicago - YouTube
3. The Purple Balloon - YouTube
4. Text Interview - BookPage, Powells Books, 7 Impossible Things, Mackin Library
5. Chris Raschka on Painting and Poetry - TeachingBooks
6. Raschka about Making Picture Books - Scholastic
7. Biography

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