The Scraps Book: Notes from a Colorful Life
I recently finished reading another Texas Bluebonnet Award nominee, this time a nonfiction title: The Scraps Book: Notes from a Colorful Life by Lois Ehlert. I was actually looking forward to getting to this title on the list, mostly because I love Lois Ehlert’s books and often use them in story time. Although it is an autobiography, the book is presented in picture book format, so it reads quickly. However, the simple format doesn’t detract from the text; rather, it encourages a deeper understanding of Ehlert’s career as an artist.
Summary: Lois Ehlert has considered herself an artist since a very young age. Encouraged by her parents and inspired by all manner of things around her, she has spent many years creating beautiful works of art. Ehlert outlines not only her development as an artist, but also her process for creating the artwork for her books. Using examples and illustrations from many of her popular titles, this text provides a beautiful explanation of Ehlert’s life and encourages the reader to develop their own artistic talents.
What I Liked: This book is truly a masterpiece, incorporating not only Ehlert’s personal memories, but also her beautiful artwork. The combination of childhood photographs and book illustrations seamlessly shows the transition between her artistic beginnings and the growth of her dream. In addition to the familiar pictures, the book also includes pictures of objects and the creative process in developing them, showing the reader how a single idea or moment can translate into a picture or even an entire story. The inclusion of simple craft instructions also encourages the reader to attempt their own artistic creations. I particularly enjoyed the notes accompanying the artwork and photos included. While reading this information is not necessary for understanding the process, the added information provides extra depth to the narrative. I also appreciated the photo credits for each of the illustrations, which helped remind me of some of my favorite works.
What I Didn’t Like: I don’t really have any complaints with this book. It is informative, engaging, and useful in several contexts. While at times I wished more information was included, the simplicity of the text added to the overall beauty of the work. Readers of all ages are sure to enjoy this work.
Overall Feeling: This autobiography is simple and compelling. Whether a fan of Ehlert’s work or not, at the very least, the reader can appreciate the development of the artistic process, the use of mixed media, and the inspiration from everywhere in creating art. One of the most compelling parts of this book is the underlying message: Anyone has the capability to succeed at their dreams. Anyone has the capacity to create art and beauty. At the same time, Ehlert remains realistic that sometimes developing one’s dream requires time and patience, an important reminder for many. I would recommend this book for anyone interested in art, or anyone interested in the works of Lois Ehlert. Teachers and students alike will appreciate this work, and the simplicity and engaging illustrations will be appealing to both older and younger readers.