When you read stories with children you know that everything in a book matters. Everything. Each word. Each image. The end pages. The book jacket. Every tiny detail. Children notice and question everything. They remind us that it is more than words that tell a story. The story becomes alive via their interactions. Reading to children is a joy.
Illustrator and author Melissa Sweet is all about each tiny detail. And lots and lots of joy. We immersed ourselves in Melissa Sweet‘s world a while back for an illustrator study and I had the pleasure of introducing Melissa (with help from my little artists) when she spoke in Bellingham at the Western Washington Children’s Literature Conference.
This post celebrates that wonderful week and the introduction that was the result.
From my introduction:
Melissa Sweet is Melissa Sweet for all day of every day. In my Grade 2/3 class in Vancouver BC, we waded and splashed through her world for one full week of learning and inspiration.
- We made some art
- We looked at some things from new perspectives
- We did some research
- We fell in love with graph paper
- And of course, we read some beautifully, beautifully detailed picture books
In a 2010 interview with Julie Danielson from the blog Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, Melissa Sweet indicated that she would love any job that involved a bicycle. You will see a bit of a homage to the bicycle here. All bicycles are original pieces inspired by a sketch by Melissa.
During the week we read or reread many titles illustrated or written and illustrated by Melissa Sweet.
Inspired by the pencil characters in Little Red Writing, we drew some of our own.
We wrote and illustrated our own Night poems Melissa Sweet style. This illustration is from the book Firefly July:
And our work:
These look stunning mounted on a double bulletin board display.
We read that Melissa fears anything to do with a ladder and decided to think about why.
We thought that maybe she should rethink this fear and look at ladders from some new perspectives. Can you spot the ladder in each picture?
And I am sure she never thought of this one:
When my students from last year heard I was doing an illustrator study on Melissa Sweet, they wanted to participate. Last year The Right Word was part of our Mock Caldecott and they were fascinated by Melissa’s work. They drew all of the bicycles and helped make a number of green things. In Little Red Writing, there were scraps and scraps of red things collected in a basket.
We read that Melissa was maybe not so great at relaxing and so thought we would make her some green things to help her feel calm.
Some things I expected.
Some I didn’t
Some were maybe not so calming!
I brought them all along (108 green things at last count) and gifted them to Melissa so she could relax during her presentation 🙂
If this post weren’t already a million images long, I would share some of the wonderful in Melissa’s presentation. But it is, so I won’t. I leave you with just these words from her:
“The act of drawing is thinking and remembering”
Sounds a lot like the act of writing. Of telling stories. This telling was a visual feast to celebrate the incredible Melissa Sweet!
I am participating in the Slice of Life challenge to write and publish a post every day in March. This is day #26
Slice of Life is hosted by Two Writing Teachers. I thank them for the community they provide. Read more slices here.
This is also a celebration post.
Thank you to Ruth Ayres and the #celebratelu community!
Being part of a community that regularly shares gratitude and celebrations truly transforms my weeks.