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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Illustrators at Work!

Our first graders have been enjoying stories written by Audrey Wood in library class. We have been comparing the styles of the various illustrators of her books, including Don Wood (her husband), Bruce Wood (her son), Mark Teague, and herself! Then the students took on the job of illustrator and created their own version of Audrey’s “Quick as a Cricket”.

Her son creates his illustrations on the computer, so I decided to let my students try their hand at this medium. We don’t have the program that Bruce uses, but the children did a wonderful job with Microsoft Paint!
We discussed the steps that are taken when a book is being created, beginning with the author's manuscript. Many times it is the publisher who selects the illustrator and not the author. I challenged the students to imagine that they had been given the assignment by a publisher to create the illustrations for a book. I read "Quick as a Cricket" to them but did not show them the book until after their own illustrations were done. This is what a book illustrator must do: imagine what sort of picture will help to express what the author wants to say.

After I showed them their original version of the story on the SMART Board, I shared Audrey Wood's version (illustrated by Don Wood). I emphasized that I did not expect them to anticipate what he chose to depict, and that I didn't think they "got it right" if their pictures were the same as his. I asked the students, "Is there only one correct way to create an illustration?" They discussed their feelings about that and concluded that there are lots of different ways to communicate an idea.

At the end of the last trimester, most of the students had difficulty remembering what an "illustrator" is. Now all the hands go up when I ask for the definition. As one student put it, "The illustrator makes the pictures in a book...I am one!"

You can follow the links below to see the students' work. I really lucked out: by splitting Mrs. Campbell's first graders into two groups and adding them to 1B or 1G, I had exactly the right number of students I needed to illustrate each page in the book! I converted their PowerPoints into Google documents, so you can download or print the presentations if you wish. Enjoy!

"Quick as a Cricket" illustrated by students in 1B and 1C
"Quick as a Cricket" illustrated by students in 1G and 1C