Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Happy Birthday, Brian Biggs - March 9

Happy Birthday, Brian Biggs - March 9

Oh, the "dog days" of parenting...Wait. Is there such a thing? Maybe, but I didn't know it when they were happening.

From my vantage point, the "dog days" of parenting were about four years ago, when I only had one child in full-day school. We could go about our day at our own schedule and our own speed. I was warned by friends with older children, Parenting gets harder when your children get older. If what they meant by harder, meant busier, then I agree.

Now I have children going every which way. We just set up my middle-school-aged daughter with a Google calendar so she could share her busy schedule with us so we know when and where we need to pick her up. My oldest son gets home from school, drops his book bag on the floor and is out the door to play basketball or football with his friends. What am I going to do when the youngest two are heading to social events? Wait. My four-year-old daughter has a play date tomorrow and my youngest son has a birthday party to go to this weekend! Ahhhhh! (The birthday party sounds really cool. I am kinda jealous I can't go. It's one of those painting parties.)

I think what my family needs is some down time where we can just chill out together. (Wave my magic wand and say a few magic words.)

Presto! It's Tuesday night. My daughter's meeting with her Robotics team was moved up to after school instead of the evening. It was pouring down rain so playing basketball and football was out. The play date is tomorrow. The birthday party is this weekend. Wait. It's after dinner and everybody is actually home?!?!

What should we do? Maybe, a painting party to celebrate Brian Biggs' birthday?

Brian Biggs is the illustrator of over 70 books including the Roscoe Riley Rules series by Katherine Applegate, the Frank Einstein series by Jon Scieszka, and the Brownie and Pearl series by Cynthia Rylant. He has written and illustrated many of his own books too, including the Tinyville Town series and the Everything Goes series.

Brian attended Parsons School of Design to study graphic design. During his junior year he studied in Paris and took a life-changing class about the business of illustration. He felt this class made him an illustrator. After college he was an art director, comic book artist, graphic novelist, graphic designer and more. Then, when his kids were young, he started thinking about illustrating for children. (Mazza Museum Keynote, Fall Conference 2016).

At first, he created artwork for things like bike helmets and toys. Then, his big break came in 2004 when he illustrated the Shedderman series by Wendelin Van Draanen. He said, "I was drawing anything anyone would give me, but I didn't have 'my voice.'" In 2008, he illustrated a poster for the Philadelphia Book Festival and became the "busy guy". I think Brian meant "busy" as in the illustration style in his fun-to-look-at books like the Everything Goes series.  But, it is clear Brian is just a BUSY guy, having illustrated over 70 books since 2004. His latest book is Tinyville Town: I'm a Librarian.

I couldn't believe we had a break from our busy schedules to sit down as a family to do a project together. Our inspiration for the project came from one of Brian's illustrations in Dog Days of School by Kelly DiPucchio. This story is about a boy name Charlie who gets anxious every Sunday night before the next school day and wishes he could stay home like his dog Norman. When Charlie wakes up on Monday, he and Norman have switched places. Norman is off to school to do boy things and Charlie stays at home to do dog things.

This illustration is Norman's self-portrait he painted at school. This reminded me of a painting party like the one my son gets to go to. I wondered if we could have a painting party at home and recreate this illustration.
My oldest daughter said, because she has been to a few, "At painting parties the instructor draws with a pencil on the canvas to get you started."  So, I drew a circle for Norman's nose.
We prepared the paint plates.
We reviewed the story. My youngest daughter picked it the night before for bedtime books.
They started with the nose. Then we made the nose into a lollipop by drawing a line down. 
We flipped the paintings upside down and painted a "J" to make Norman's head.
Lookin' good!
My son was mad about his "J". He wanted it to be "perfect". I was pleased he was able to realize that his Norman was looking great.
His sister thought so too.
After adding a collar, eyes, and an ear they chose their favorite color for the background.
Norman, painted by my oldest son.
Working hard.
Well done by my four-year-old!
My oldest daughter and my wife contributed a wonderful painting too!
Parenting was easier (and less busy) four years ago, and I am certainly thankful for a night like this.

Oh...and sorta off topic...
My daughter and I made dog biscuits for a morning snack while everyone else was at school.
Not real dog biscuits, but breakfast biscuit/cookies cut out with a dog-shaped cookie cutter. We pretended to be Charlie from Dog Days of School. Woof!
We used a recipe from Tasty Kitchen. Yum!
Check out Brian's latest book, Noisy Night, written by Mac Barnett and watch out for Tinyville Town Time for School! in July 2017.

1. Brian Biggs' website
2. Follow Brian on Twitter, Facebook
3. Everything Goes Website
4. Interviews - School Library Journal, Seven Impossible Things, This Kid Reviews Books, Middle Grade Mafia, Pots and Pens

Greetings from Tinyville Town from Brian Biggs on Vimeo.

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