Book review: Mamie by Tania McCartney
Where do I start with this beautiful illustrated story about the childhood of Australia’s sweetheart, May Gibbs (aka Mamie)!
Tania McCartney has brought the little girl ‘Mamie’ to life in this book filled with references to May Gibbs’ original stories and illustrations.
I highly recommend this book for homes and schools that want to encourage a creative culture for two main reasons. Firstly, this book gives children access to the history of an iconic Australian artist and author, which is great for English, history and Art subjects, in a way that children will enjoy. Secondly, the book describes Gibbs’ inspirational creative way of seeing the world. She spends plenty of time playing in nature, using her imagination and practicing her artistic skills. We get to see Mamie sing, draw, paint, dance, play, bake, sew, explore, observe, imagine and dream. These words and images will make the creative types feel like they’ve made a new, kindred friend.
An adorable, whimsy tale of an inspirational Australian child.
To extend the learning from this book you could:
- Read a May Gibbs book and discuss the similarities and references in Mamie.
- Explore the other wonderful Australian works by Tania McCartney.
- Find some gum blossoms and leaves to paint or draw. Perhaps you could turn some of your illustrations into characters.
- Visit the original home of Mamie, May Gibbs’ Nutcote.
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An art bag is a really important item and needn’t cost you anything. You’re going to want a bag or large pencil case of some sort to be able to get out and about with your art materials. You can use a bag you already have or find something at a second hand shop. Something that can carry an art diary or journal and some pencils or watercolours so that you can get out into nature and amongst the inspiration!
Pencils. They sound so simple but there really are a lot to choose from and they all serve a different purpose.
- Coloured pencils. Yup, got to have them. There are expensive ones for serious coloured pencil artists, but if you’re just looking to stock your art kit for some creative fun, you can buy basic coloured pencils just about anywhere.
- Graphite pencils. A range of graphite drawing pencils from 6B and up to 4H will be really useful for sketching and shading.
- Watercolour pencils. I have found that these are extremely popular with students. They love the control of being able to sketch their art and then add water to magically turn it into a painting. They are a nice step before using watercolour palettes or paints.
While you’re browsing pencils, make sure to pick up a couple of quality sharpeners and some erasers. Pencils don’t really like sharpeners, so be gentle. Also, you know that frustrating experience of having the lead break and fall out of the pencil every time you sharpen it? Well, it may be that the lead has broken when the pencil has been dropped or sharpened roughly so take good care of them.
There are more pencils that I will blog about at a later date, but for now, these 3 kinds are great tools to have in your creative art tool kit.