CM . . . . Volume XV Number 13. . . .February 20, 2009.
1 2 3 I Can Collage! (Starting Art).
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2009.
24 pp. pbk. & hc., $6.95 (pbk.), $14.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55453-314-5 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55453-313-8 (hc.).
Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 4-7.
Review by Elizabeth Walker.
Imagine the SUPER SEA CREATURE you could make if you put all your collage techniques together into one amazing idea! How about a water-breathing sea dragon? What objects can you find to glue on for the head and snout? What about a round or oval leaf for the head and a piece of grass, a stick or a twig for its snout?
With 1 2 3 I Can Collage! Irene Luxbacher has created yet another exemplary how-to art book for young children. Like 1 2 3 I Can Draw and 1 2 3 I Can Make Prints, this book celebrates creativity, getting messy, and having fun more than it does the the finished product. Luxbacher's kid-friendly prose is informative and precise, and her illustrations are delightful. The theme for this volume is sea creatures, and on each two-page spread, readers get ideas for using paper, magazine cutouts, fabric and found objects to create disarmingly adorable marine life. Her decoupage humpback whale is a piece of art in itself, a dreamlike concoction of paint, magazine cuttings and textured papers, reminiscent of Dali and Magritte. As with other books in the series, 1 2 3 I Can Collage! culminates with a mixed-media project that takes advantage of different materials and techniques. There is advice for parents at teachers at the end, as well as a handy glossary.
The design team at Kids Can Press is to be commended for their wonderful layouts and high production values. There is just the right blend of white space, black ink drawings, text and the all-important step-by-step illustrations, without seeming overwhelming. The photographs of Luxbacher's charming collages are so clear that the colours and textures of the different materials truly come to life on the page.
Irene Luxbacher hits all the right notes with this series, and I cannot wait for the next installment. The only criticism is that the format of the book itself – hardback, with beautiful glossy pages – will not stand up to the grubby hands of young artists. If the series becomes as popular as it deserves to be, I hope to see a hardier version for children to handle readily during their projects.
Parents, teachers and librarians cannot go wrong with this or any other book in Luxbacher's
Starting Art series.
Elizabeth Walker is a student in the Master of Arts in Children's Literature program at UBC. She sort of wishes she could create a collage instead of handing in her thesis this spring.
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