art, nature

Birds & Words

Birds & Words
Author & Illustrator: Charles Harper
Publisher: AMMO Books
Genre: Art / Nature
ISBN: 978-162326016-3
Pages: 152
Price: $34.95

Author’s website
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Charley Harper liked to say, “I could never get close enough to count the feathers in the wings, so I just count the wings.” His colorful bird illustrations are shown in minimal realism that hints more than it shows in this reprint of the 1974 classic.

Long feather tendrils grace a snowy egret’s head and back. Barn swallows are long and elegant, with sharply pointed wings. The cardinal is a study in bright red with a sharply pronounced black bib. A flock of starlings is a blur of black, green and purple with white spots.

Along with these and other bird illustrations, Harper provides his own unique commentary about each species. Although this is no carefully detailed Audubon book, Birds & Words will make any bird lover smile at these lovely creations.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

art, children

Al and Teddy

Al and Teddy
Author & Illustrator: Neil Waldman
Publisher: Dream Yard Press
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-0-615-72969-5
Pages: 48
Price: $17.95

Author’s website
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In the evening, once everyone is asleep, Teddy’s big brother, Al, flies off to outer space. In this magical place, he is King Alejandro, ruler of his own kingdom. He has a pony waiting for Teddy, who will be known as Prince Teodoro.  But Teddy is too young to travel with Al, and he must wait until he turns five.

Teddy doesn’t realize it, but Al is really traveling through the drawings he creates. Once Teddy discovers Al’s secret, he asks for artwork depicting his very own travels. Although it would be fun to actually fly off to space, Al and Teddy have discovered the ability to travel through their own imaginations, which can take them anywhere they want to go.

Al and Teddy is beautifully illustrated, with moon monsters, space ships, and castles. Kids will delight in the ability to travel to any place their imaginations can take them, through the magic of a pencil and paper. All profits from this book will be used to support the young artists of the Fred Dolan Art Academy, a free Dream Yard school.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

art, creativity, parenting

The Artist’s Way for Parents

The Artist's Way For Parents
Author: Julia Cameron
Publisher: Tarcher
Genre: Creativity / Parenting
ISBN: 978-0-399-16372-2
Pages: 288
Price: $26.95

Author’s website
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The Artist’s Way is one of the best-selling and most helpful books on developing creativity. But a special book was needed to help parents teach their children to honor their own creative gifts. In The Artist’s Way for Parents, Julia Cameron shares some of the secrets she learned in being the parent of a creative daughter.

The basic structure of this volume is similar to other “Artist’s Way” books. Broken down into twelve chapters with headings such as Cultivating Curiosity, Cultivating Limits, and Cultivating Independence, Cameron explores sub-topics within this framework. An exercise for parents and/or children is included after each lesson. Familiar tools are utilized, such as morning pages and creative expeditions (artist’s dates) along with something new – sharing highlights of the day with your child.

Allowing a child to have a safe environment to create in is key to maximizing his highest potential. But this may not come naturally, and guidance from an expert can be helpful. If you want to nurture your child in exploring his creativity, The Artist’s Way for Parents would be a valuable resource. I highly recommend this book and the others in the “Artist’s Way” collection by Julia Cameron.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

art, children

Picturing the ABCs at the Norton Simon Museum

Picturing the ABCs at the Norton Simon Museum
Publisher: Norton Simon Museum
Genre: Art / Children
ISBN: 978-0-97266-819-4
Pages: 108
Price: $15.00

Buy it at the Norton Simon Museum shop

‘A’ is for apple – as in Gustave Courbet’s Apples, Pears and Primroses on a Table, oil on canvas. ‘B’ is for Buddha – as in India: Tamil Nadu, Buddha Shakyamuni, granite statue. Picturing the ABCs at the Norton Simon Museum takes children on a tour through the museum’s collection, using the alphabet as a guide.

Each alphabet page shows kids the letter and reference, with a cutout highlighting an object on the next page, which is part of the picture or statue featured. Beautiful works of art from Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, and Henri Rousseau, as well as many others, are showcased in this beautiful ABC book.

Masterpieces come alive for children as they spy an umbrella, quill, or kite. These objects lead them to see the picture in a way they can understand and appreciate, as they notice the small details. The Norton Simon Museum has created a beautiful book for kids that will teach them the ABCs while also opening their consciousness to greats works of art. I highly recommend this unique art book.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

art, children

Cool Creations in 35 Pieces

Cool Creations in 35 Pieces
Author: Sean Kenney
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Genre: Children / Art
ISBN: 978-0-8050-9692-7
Pages: 32
Price: $12.99

Author’s website
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LEGO pieces can be used to create wonderful objects, using the right combinations. But knowing how to piece them together can be a challenge for kids. In Cool Creations in 35 Pieces, master LEGO artist, Sean Kenney, has documented procedures for building robots, spacecraft, buildings, furniture and household objects, vehicles, animals, and aliens.

Kenney has only used thirty-five pieces for all of these LEGO models. Kids are encouraged to build his sculptures, but also to re-combine these pieces to create new works of art of their own. And if these models inspire you, check out Kenney’s other books on LEGO creations. This would be a perfect book for the creative LEGO builder in your home.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

art, computers

Draw Your Own Alphabets

Draw Your Own Alphabets
Author: Tony Seddon
Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press
Genre: Graphic Design
ISBN: 978-1-61689-126-8
Pages: 160
Price: $19.95

Author’s website
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Using hand-lettering in computer graphics can make your work uniquely your own. But how do you go about creating an alphabet? If you’ve ever wanted to know more about this art, Draw Your Own Alphabets can help.

Using thirty sample fonts, author Tony Seddon guides you as you determine what characteristics your personal font will have. Proper sizing matters, and tips and tricks are given to be sure your new font scans properly to your computer. Then Seddon provides information on uploading your font to TypeTool so it is properly matched to your keyboard.

If you’ve ever wanted to create a hand-lettered look in your own graphic design, Draw Your Own Alphabets would be a valuable resource.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


The Pocket Paper Engineer Vol 3: V-Folds

Author: Carol Barton
Publisher: Popular Kinetics Press
Genre: Art
ISBN: 978-0-9627752-3-9
Pages: 71
Price: $26.95

Author’s website
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Pop up cards are fun to give and receive. Although they look difficult to construct, with the right guidance, the task can be much easier. In The Pocket Paper Engineer Vol. 3, the process of building V-folds is explained in careful detail.

This unique book allows the reader to work with it in a fully hands-on manner. Designed to be taken apart and used in construction, the pages are sturdy and include pockets to place your finished products. Clear directions and illustrations show you exactly how to put these pop-up designs together, and then explain how to use these newly acquired skills for creations of your own.

Used in conjunction with Pocket Paper Engineer Vol 1 & 2 or by itself, this book will guide you in creating successful pop-up designs of your own. I highly recommend this series.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

art, children

Hans, His Chairs and the World

Author: Anne Blond
Illustrator: Birgitte Haahr Lund
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-87-88376-44-9 (Danish), 978-87-88376-49-4 (English), 978-87-88376-50-0 (Japanese)
Pages: 56
Price: 98 kr.

Museum Sønderjylland website
To purchase this book please email the author or the Art Museum

Hans J. Wegner is world famous for his spectacular chair designs. Born in Tønder, Denmark, he grew up fascinated with the natural world and wood carving. But while adults may be familiar with his work, today’s children have most likely never heard of him.

With his 100th anniversary coming up soon, Wegner has become the center of renewed international attention. Hans, His Chairs and the World provides children with a look at his work, so they can also appreciate the contributions he made to society. In this book, we see Hans growing up in the shadow of the water tower. Later, his chairs are brought inside, as a museum is formed around them. And lastly, children are reminded of the fact that building furniture involves our natural world – trees – and they should be responsible stewards of our earth.

Anne Blond is the curator of the Art Museum in Tønder which houses Wegner’s chairs. The illustrations are created digitally, but inspired from old wood block prints, which creates a look reminiscent of Wegner’s work. Children will enjoy reading about this fascinating man, and maybe even look him up on the Internet. What they find will inspire them in their own creative pursuits.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

art, fashion

Growing More Beautiful

Author: Jennifer Robin
Publisher: Arteful Press
Genre: Fashion / Art
ISBN: 978-0-9817322-0-6
Pages: 224
Price: $29.95

Author’s website
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What makes a woman’s outfit look stylish? Is it the way the fabric flows or hugs her figure? Do the colors match her complexion and hair? Or maybe it’s the way her makeup and accessories complement her outfit? Jennifer Robin suggests all of these and more add up to the perfect look.

Using an artful approach to building a wardrobe, Robin gives us her own perspective as a fashion consultant. She encourages us to analyze our lifestyle and make sure we always have the right clothes for the situations we find ourselves in. There’s nothing more frustrating than staring at a full closet and feeling like we have nothing to wear. Robin explains why we feel that way, and what we can do to fit the problem.

My first thought on reading a book written by a fashion consultant is that she must think we have unlimited budgets for clothes. But this assumption proved false when she brought up the subject herself, suggesting that we need to carefully choose where we plan to shop so we can maximize our clothing dollars.

Art and fashion blend so nicely together in Growing More Beautiful, as photos of beautifully decorated store windows, mannequins, and the author’s own paintings grace the pages. After reading this unique book, I’m sure you’ll be inspired to pick up your own arts and crafts project and go out and buy something new. It’s no fun to go through life drab and dowdy when all it takes is a little artful play to jazz up your own wardrobe.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


Color Is Everything

Author: Dan Bartges
Publisher: The Oaklea Press
Genre: Art: Techniques / Painting
ISBN: 978-1-892538-36-9
Pages: 96
Price: $14.99

Author’s website
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Sometimes the biggest difference between a mediocre painting and a truly spectacular one is the artist’s choice of color. In Color Is Everything, Dan Bartges demystifies this important technique, and shows us how to choose a color scheme for our paintings.

Working with a basic color wheel, he shows us how to use it to maximum advantage. Whether we decide on an analogous, split complementary, tetrad, or another specified combination, we can be sure we’ve chosen the right colors if we follow his simple directions.

Once Bartges explains these combinations, he then shows us how master painters used them in their own creations. We’re then encouraged to try to replicate their results, so we can develop this color sense for ourselves.

If you’re interested in creating master works of art, and you’ve never explored the use of color, you will find this book a valuable tool. I’d also highly recommend it for anyone who wants to be sure they choose the most appealing colors for anything from painting the living room to crafting a bedroom quilt. These techniques will ensure your color scheme is the best it can be.

Reviewer: Alice Berger