Friday, March 23, 2018

Happy Birthday, Jonathan Bean - March 23

Happy Birthday, Jonathan Bean - March 23

As we were "building our house" out of craft sticks to celebrate Jonathan Bean's birthday, my youngest daughter said to me, "Daddy, what are you going to do when we are gone?"

I thought for a few moments. I was slightly confused by what she was talking about so I responded, "What do you mean?"

She repeated, "What are you going to do?"

I guessed, "Are you talking about crafts and doing stuff for author birthdays?"

She said, "Yeah. What will you do when we're gone?"

I said, "I don't know. But, you are right. Someday you will be big. You will live in a house of your own."

She responded, "You could always do author birthdays with Mommy." And then we went back to "building our house" out of craft sticks.

I can't help thinking about our conversation. Was my six-year-old daughter thinking about how her older sister is five and half years away from heading off to college? Hmmm...Probably not. Did reading Building Our House trigger thoughts of having a family of her own and moving to a new house? Maybe. Does she see how happy her dad is when we do these family projects and wants to see it continue? Who knows.

Later, I asked her why she asked the question but she didn't know.  I guess it doesn't matter at this point. We have another author birthday celebration to share with you! And wait a almost thirteen-year-old daughter was involved in this family reading experience. That means I have at least another seven years of writing this blog! (Right?) Enough with all this talk about my kids growing up and moving out.

Jonathan Bean is the illustrator of several picture books including The Apple Pie that Papa Baked, written by Lauren Thompson, Real Cowboys, written by Kate Hoefler and Bad Bye, Good Bye, written by Deborah Underwood. At the Mazza Museum Summer Conference 2015, Jonathan spoke about how much he loved art when he was a child. He was highly motivated to experiment with new art techniques to impress judges at the annual community fair, "I entered fifteen pieces every year in multiple mediums just to get more points...One year, I made a diorama of Narnia."

After graduating from Messiah College, Jonathan's experimentation with art settled on one illustration style, pastel on sandpaper.  In an interview with Seven Impossible Things he said, "I used to work in pastels a lot but it seemed to give me too much control and the result was stiff drawings." He said at Mazza, "I was told that my work felt a little cold."

In graduate school at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, Jonathan started experimenting again. This time with intentions of illustrating children's books. He tried to "soften" his art by working with pencil and ink. Later, he created a whole book for a project influenced by folk art and for his thesis project he experimented with watercolor and ink.

In 2007, Jonathan Bean burst onto the children's book scene by publishing four books.

For Apple Pie that Papa Baked Jonathan was awarded the Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Award in 2008.
At Night, was the result of Jonathan's thesis project in graduate school. For this book, he received a Boston Globe-Horn Book Award in 2008.
Jonathan Bean described himself as, "a bit of a chameleon." His career started with different people hiring him for different styles and he decided that he liked being a chameleon. Maybe Jonathan's chameleon-style started as a child when he used multiple mediums just to get more points in an art contest, but now he uses his artistic experimentation as a way to tell the best story.

The book that sparked our family reading experience was Building Our House. This story was inspired by Jonathan's family's experience building their own house when he was just a few years old. The book chronicles the process, obstacles, and successes from the moment the family acquires the land to living happily in a finished house.

I was reading the book at the public library. I was waiting for story time to begin, my daughter and I go every Tuesday, when an illustration caught my eye.
The frame of the house to me looked like popsicle sticks.
When we got home I found a box of craft sticks and asked, "Who wants to build a house?"
My two girls said, "Yes."
"Let's read the book first."
My oldest daughter used her photography skills to take this photo.
We experimented with different ways to glue the sticks together.
We used tacky glue and hot glue. I preferred tacky glue best, but my oldest daughter like the hot glue.
Boy, did she ever!
My daughter and I worked together to build one house. 
Her design was very ambitious.
My daughter had many moments of frustration, but I was impressed with her determination to finish.
We found building the walls by making a square first and then filling in the crafts sticks worked best for us.
She thought her house was a joke, but I think it turned out great.

My youngest daughter thought she needed a few ladders so she made them all by herself. Did you know you can cut craft sticks with scissors? 
Hooray! A new house! 
But, let's not talk about you moving out for a long, long time!

1. Jonathan Bean's Website and blog
2. Follow Jonathan on Facebook, Twitter
3. Interviews - The Horn Book, School Library Journal, Seven Impossible Things Blog

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