Drama · English · Uncategorized · visual arts

Book Review: Recipe for a Story

recipe for a story

Book Review: Recipe for a Story, written and illustrated by Ella Burfoot

Ella Burfoot has been writing and illustrating since she was a child. That alone, should be an inspiration to many children who fill blank notebooks with lots of imaginative stories and illustrations. I am a parent to a child who does exactly this and being able to show them an example of a writer/illustrator who has published their work is wonderful.

Not only is the author a creative inspiration but so is this book. It is a fun story about how to write a story! Children can go through each page and think about whether they have included all the ingredients in their own writing to create a story.

To extend the learning from this book, here are some more suggestions for activities.

  • Read the book again and write a list of the ingredients for a story.
  • Write a story that includes those ingredients.
  • Illustrate the story!

For more creativity inspiring book suggestions, visit our library.

English · PDHPE · Uncategorized · visual arts

Book Review: The Book of Mistakes

book of mistakes

Book Review: The Book of Mistakes, written and illustrated by Corinna Luyken

Goodness, this book is a gorgeous gathering of images and messages all bundled up into one wonderful book.

Artist Corinna Luyken has shared her vulnerable artmaking approach in this whimsical story about how sometimes the mistakes we make (in art or life) can be the inspiration for something even better. This book won me over with it’s celebration of genuine creativity and it’s clever incorporation of the artmaking process into the story. The drawings are full of personality and character and as the story evolves we get to see how those characters and mistakes fit into the big picture.

To extend the learning from this book, here are some more suggestions for activities.

  • Have a chat about how sometimes our mistakes can be really frustrating but maybe we could look at them as inspiration instead. Mistakes are part of the artmaking process and the more we accept that, the more we will learn about art.
  • Draw a character, but as you make mistakes, turn those mistakes into unique characteristics for your drawing.
  • In pairs, draw 4-5 lines and/or shapes on a piece of paper. Swap the paper with the other person and try to turn the lines and shapes into a picture.

For more creativity inspiring book suggestions, visit our library.


Book Review: The Museum

the museum

Book Review: The Museum by Susan Verde and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds

When we were searching for books illustrated by one of our favourite illustrator/authors Peter H. Reynolds, (other books by him may be found in our library) we came across this wonderful book about art museums and artists, written by Susan Verde.

The book takes us on a journey of an art museum through the eyes of a creative, young girl. She enthusiastically describes her reaction to artworks by well-known artists like Degas, Van Gogh, Rodin, Picasso, Cezanne and Munch. She breaks down the stereotype of museums being quiet, boring places and gives children permission to react to art and enjoy the experience of emotions it brings with it. She also has a chance to create her own artwork as a response to all the inspiration she has gained from viewing the works in the museum.

Most art galleries have an artmaking space for children to create art as a direct response to the works that are on display at the time.

To extend the learning from this book, here are some more suggestions for activities.

  • Visit an art gallery! Do a search of the area you are in and see what exhibitions are on and when they have their making spaces open. Follow up your tour of the art by making some art!
  • Students can choose their favourite artwork from the book and research to find out more about that artist and their artworks.
  • Visit Susan Verde’s website where there are some fantastic downloadable resources for educators and students.

For more creativity inspiring book suggestions, visit our library.

English · Geography · History · Uncategorized · visual arts

Book Review: Australia Illustrated


Book Review: Australia Illustrated by Tania McCartney

Tania McCartney is an Australian artist who has illustrated many books. Her journey also includes a lot of other creative ventures including her experience as an editor and publisher as well as encouraging others to draw and illustrate. Anyone who helps promote creativity in Australia gets a big thumbs up from us!

Australia Illustrated is a beautifully illustrated book dedicated to bringing the character of Australia to life through McCartney’s whimsy, watercolour images and digital art. Each section of this vast and varied country is explored, from the iconic places we know and love to the quirkier details that make us want to explore it more. From major cities to iconic foods, animals to historic details, Australia Illustrated is a visual feast of learning.

This book is a perfect way to introduce kids to the geography and diversity of this big land. The illustrations are an ideal way to communicate all of the amazing details and both kids and adults will be inspired. It would also be the perfect companion to anyone who is exploring Australia or planning a trip!

Tania McCartney’s website has links to teaching notes that explain all of the ways her book relates to different subject areas. It has quite a few ideas for activities in those different subject areas too.

To extend the learning from this book, here are some more suggestions for activities.

  • On a map of Australia, plan a trip based on the things from the book you would like to visit.
  • Draw some of your own illustrations of things you think are important for people to know about Australia or another country that is significant to you.
  • Using the illustrations you have drawn from the previous task, create a poster/brochure for your chosen country.
  • Give watercolour painting a go!

For more creativity inspiring book suggestions, visit our library.




English · Geography · History · Science and Technology · Uncategorized · visual arts

Book Review: Home


Book Review: Home by Jeannie Baker (It is also titled Belonging)

Home is one of the many, many books created by collage construction artist, Jeannie Baker. This book is the companion to another book of Baker’s, Window. Where Window creatively documents the urban sprawl of a suburb through the changing view from the window, Home/Belonging documents the hopeful reverse, where the concrete jungle of the city becomes slowly transformed into a lush green community space for the residents and native creatures. You can read more about the ideas of this wonderful book on Jeannie Baker’s website.

If a picture paints a thousand words, then Jeannie Baker’s, often wordless books, speak volumes about community, culture, the environment and changing times. There is a reason they are on the NSW English suggested texts lists for Stage 1, 2, 3 and 4 multiple times. They speak to people of all ages through the different layers of meaning.

Jeannie Baker demonstrates extreme levels of patience with her artmaking method, building up collages, layer by layer after dreaming up the idea, creating the images to work from and sourcing all of the varied materials. We have been fortunate enough to visit an exhibition of her collage works from her books and they are truly inspiring.

To extend the learning from this book, there are so many things you could do.

  • Collect materials and design and make your own collage construction.
  • Look at old photos of your own city, town or environment and see how it has changed over time.
  • Brainstorm ways to include more native plants in your community.
  • Research what the environmental issues are in your local community and think about what you could do to help solve these problems.
  • Write a description of a community from the perspective of two families. One perspective from today and one perspective from fifty years ago.

For more creativity inspiring book suggestions, visit our library.

English · History · Uncategorized · visual arts

Book review: Uncle Andy’s

Uncle Andys

Book review: Uncle Andy’s by James Warhola

Uncle Andy’s has been written by Andy Warhol’s nephew! James Warhola has written and illustrated this wonderful story from his childhood. The beautifully illustrated book takes the reader on an exciting and entertaining journey through the eyes of James as a child, visiting his Uncle Andy and grandmother “Bubba” at their home/studio in the city of New York. The fabulous illustrations include references to some of Warhol’s most famous and valuable works. Seeing the artworks in the home surrounded by family, furniture and pets will really help young readers to appreciate Warhol’s works and relate them to their own lives. Children will have lots of fun spotting all of the 25 cats (all named Sam) in the illustrations.

The book refers to different kinds of artmaking. It obviously refers to Andy Warhol’s works like Campbell’s Soup Cans, 1962 but it also refers to making sculptures out of found objects from the junk yard as well as a reference at the end about how James Warhola was inspired to develop his own artmaking through art classes, a wonderfully messy bedroom/studio and the support of his parents. The final page shows the young boy, James, in his studio, deep in his creative thoughts and drawing a found object, with his mum proudly looking over his shoulder.

To extend the learning from this book it is well worth looking into the works and time period of Andy Warhol’s artworks.

  • Talk about how he took ordinary objects and turned them into priceless works of art.
  • Talk about how screen-printing was used for advertising but Warhol was innovative and used it as an exciting method to create art.
  • Think about what popular, ordinary items of today would be considered new and exciting if you printed them as artworks.

For more creativity inspiring book suggestions, visit our library.

English · Uncategorized · visual arts

How to talk about ART with kids

how to talk to kids about art 2

This title should probably read; How to talk about ART with kids, even when you don’t understand it yourself. I often hear people say they don’t understand art and therefore have no interest in it. The beauty about art is that everybody has a different experience of an artwork. You don’t have to understand it to be able to discuss it.

We went for a sculpture walk the other day and it prompted lots of questions from the kids about the artworks we were looking at.

Children like expressing their opinions and when they talk about art it’s no different. If you have some questions ready you can learn a lot about the artworks you are looking at as well as the ideas of the kids you are discussing art with. It is an amazing literacy challenge too, the kids (and yourself) may learn some new terminology (maybe assemblage could be your next favorite scrabble word!)

The Australian NSW Visual Arts syllabus requires students to appreciate and discuss art. Choose around TWO questions (from the total list) per artwork you are looking at and let the discussion happen! I also recommend just choosing a few artworks at a time, not a whole gallery at once. If a picture tells a thousand words than each artwork you view is like reading an essay.

Look (Talk about what you can see)

  • What is it made of? Is it a stone sculpture or a painting….is it both…?
  • Does it remind you of anything?
  • What does it resemble?
  • Is it realistic
  • How do you think it was made?


  • How does it make you feel? Is it sad, spooky or does it make you laugh?
  • Do you like it? Why or why not?


  • Who made the artwork?
  • Where are they from?
  • Is there information around that will tell us about the artist?


  • When was the artwork made? Is that surprising?
  • Does it look new or old?

Subject areas: Visual Arts

Australian Curriculum:

  • Visual Arts:  ACAVAR109, ACAVAR113, ACAVAR117

Stages: All stages

NSW Outcomes addressed:

  • Visual Arts: VAES1.3, VAES1.4, VAS1.3, VAS1.4, VAS2.3, VAS2.4, VAS3.3, VAS3.4,