Review Blog

Feb 08 2018

The art garden by Penny Harrison and Penelope Pratley

cover image

EK Books, 2018. ISBN 9781925335590
Sadie loves playing with colour and finding patterns and shapes in unlikely places, looking at details of lines and texture with the eye of an artist. More than anything she wants to be a painter, just like her best friend, Tom whose brush dances across the page, swooshing and swirling into shapes and stories and drawing Sadie right into them. But whenever Sadie picks up a paintbrush her colours slip and slurp, splatter and splodge and her paintings don't look anything like the real thing. So instead, she spends her time working in the garden or playing with Tom. But, one day, when she ends up painting herself instead of a picture, Sadie chucks a tantrum in frustration and climbs her favourite tree - and suddenly gets a look at things from a different perspective and makes a big discovery about herself and her own creativity.
This is a unique story, charmingly illustrated in watercolour, that will offer a new perspective to those who don't see themselves as creative just because they cannot paint. It opens up lots of potential for discussion about how each of us is creative even if 'we can't draw a straight line', whether it's working in a different medium such as stone or fabric or in a different field such as words or music or movement. While we each interpret our environment differently. each one of us is creative and it is creativity that drives us forward.
Like many kids, Sadie focuses on and is frustrated by the things she can't do rather than paying attention to that which she does well and her self-talk of doubt takes over. Sadly, sometimes negative language is all that some of our students hear so they need to learn to think 'I can...' rather than 'I can't...' with the help of visible affirmations so maybe get the students to write a personal 'I can't...' statement relating to something they really want to achieve, then rephrase it into an 'I can...' mantra that can start to change their inner voice and the thinking that drives it.
Quality picture books are like the seeds that Sadie planted... an engaging story that is the beautiful flower but so much more beneath the surface that is grounding it and helping it grow. This is quality.
Barbara Braxton

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