Monday, March 24, 2014

March STEAM Reads Roundup

The Stats: Stone Giant: Michelangelo's David and How He Came to Be by Jane Sutcliffe, illustrated by John Shelley, released April 8 from Charlesbridge
The Synopsis: Michelangelo's statue of David is considered a masterpiece, but it started out like any other marble sculpture: as a slab of stone. This picture book chronicles how Michelangelo's David came to be, detailing why Florence wanted the statue in the first place, how hard the artist worked on it, and how it was received when it was finally revealed. The text concludes with an informative author's note and bibliography.
The Review: This short, straightforward non-fiction picture book provides so much detail surrounding one of the most famous works of art in the Western world. Sutcliffe obviously believes that having the context for great works of art is integral to appreciating them, and she makes sure her readers understand why the David statue was and continues to be important. Shelley's illustrations add a great level of interest to the book, with intricate borders and side illustrations that depict every aspect of this statue's life--from the biblical inspiration, to the sculptor's tools, to the process of moving the enormous statue after its completion. Sutcliffe and Shelley combine to offer a comprehensive, interesting, and kid-friendly introduction to Michelangelo's marble masterpiece.
The Programming Connection: I'd take either the art historical or the engineering/art routes for programming with this title. In terms of art history, this book lends itself to a program in which many famous works of art are explored for their context and how they were created. On the engineering/art side, I would use the book in a program about creating with negative space. We'd have blocks of clay to sculpt into our own creations by chipping away at the parts we do not need. Not a simple process!

The Stats: Milo and Millie by Jedda Robaard, released May 27 from Candlewick
The Synopsis: This quick picture book follows Milo and his bear as they have a sailing adventure in an origami boat. At the end, the reader discovers the adventure was only an imagined tale taking place during Milo's bath. The book includes instructions for making an origami boat.
The Review: This simple story comes beautifully to life in Robaard's watercolor, pencil, and collage illustrations. There is much to enjoy and appreciate here--the brevity of the text, which mimics a young child's storytelling; the gorgeous and minimalist illustrations; and the ultimate realization what we can imagine all sorts of adventures for ourselves. A lovely, quiet book to share with preschool-age children.
The Programming Connection: I would absolutely use this book in storytimes, taking care to talk about the beautiful illustrations. On some pages, we could talk about shapes; on another, animals; on a third, what a whirlpool is. I would also love to use this book in a program in which the children can fold their own origami boats, then describe the adventures that they go on inside of them.

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See February's STEAM Reads Roundup here.


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