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Think Big

Think Big

by Liz Garton Scanlon, Vanessa Newton (Illustrator)

Art is so much more than easels and paintbrushes as this delightful new picture book by two exciting talents makes clear. Follow along as a classroom of exuberant young kids explore art and the power of creativity in its most varied forms—painting, music, writing, cooking, performing... there's no end to where their imaginations can take them! The lilting


Art is so much more than easels and paintbrushes as this delightful new picture book by two exciting talents makes clear. Follow along as a classroom of exuberant young kids explore art and the power of creativity in its most varied forms—painting, music, writing, cooking, performing... there's no end to where their imaginations can take them! The lilting poetry of Liz Garton Scanlon's text pairs perfectly with the playful art of Vanessa Newton in this warm, thoughtful, and—of course—creative picture book. Young listeners will want to jump right into the pages to find their own muse.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Suzanne Javid
No thought too great; you think, we will wait. And so a racially diverse classroom of cute and charming kids starts preparing for an art performance. They are exuberant to say the least with artistic spirit and all talented in artistic ways. There are painters, sketchers, musicians, actors, chefs, photographers, stitchers, dancers, decorators, knitters, glazers, dicers and more who are painting, singing, dancing, cooking, sewing and more. The story is a lyrical celebration of imagination and about thinking outside the box and doing fun things all the while relating art to everyday life. The reader finds no more than four words per page either in two word lines or two line couplets with delightful, colorful illustrations of the children productively and actively involved in preparation. Strong picture and text support is provided for unfamiliar words such as hue, bow stroke and purl, among others. Each of us is talented in our own way and the writer and illustrator of this book believe in and illustrate the artistic spirit in each of us. In some cases this spirit is just waiting to be discovered. A wonderful read for small groups of children as the exuberance in this story will spread among them even in pre-reading activities. A comprehensive Teacher's Guide is found on the author's website and is highly recommended (lizgaronscanlon.com). The author shows a good understanding of writing and of the relationship between reading and writing. Her advice for young writers is to read, read and read and it is her belief that writers learn by being avid readers—words dear to the heart of all who work with children. Reviewer: Suzanne Javid
School Library Journal
Gr 1—A supply closet, first full then empty, marks the endpapers of this picture-book poem in celebration of creative thinking and artistic endeavors. Enthusiastic children finger paint, play musical instruments, sing, sew costumes, and dance, all in preparation for a theater production called, "When We Grow Up." Digital collage illustrations done in gouache, charcoal, and mixed media echo the rollicking mood. Collaboration is made explicit on the page reading, "Brainstorm /Blank page/Scene set/Onstage." Yellow ledger paper tacked on the wall indicates who will write, paint, build the set, and dance, and shows a drawing of the stage setup. The rest of the text is an introduction to these creative arts as the kids enjoy themselves and mug for the audience. "Pinch salt/Dice, chop/Click, flash/Time stop." On the drawing spread, the inventive youngsters make their own tickets and playbills with black ink. It's wonderful to see a picture book that explores the creative arts in the hands of the youngest children. It would have been even better if more explicit clues on how each art form contributed to the theater production had been included.—Sara Lissa Paulson, American Sign Language and English Lower School PS 347, New York City
Publishers Weekly
A group of children—with an assist from their fun-loving and attention-hogging cat—put together a theater production from scratch without a whiff of adult supervision. The event is revealed to be a kind of pageant of professions entitled “When We Grow Up!” and both the preparations and the production ensure no one is left on the sidelines, whether they’re singers and crafters (“Big voice/ On pitch/ Pin, trim/ Thread, stitch”) or potters and dancers (“Red clay/ Round wheel/ Spin, twirl/ Toe, heel”). Scanlon’s (All the World) brief, percussive rhymes and Newton’s (One Love) gently 1960s retro collages portray an industrious, competent, and preternaturally collaborative group. In fact, the lack of narrative or dramatic tension (one scene hints at a mild case of butterflies before the curtain goes up), not to mention the absence of any artistic mishaps, personality clashes, or other bloopers, makes this feel more like a well-rehearsed march than the embodiment of the final exhortation “Make art!” Ages 3–6. Agent: Erin Murphy, Erin Murphy Literary Agency. Illustrator’s agent: Lori Nowicki, Painted Words. (June)
Kirkus Reviews
A bouncy, early-childhood answer to Glee shows a racially diverse classroom of kids eagerly preparing for a multifaceted art performance. Scanlon's spare rhyming text bursts with gusto. No page has more than four words, but every word's turbocharged because of flawless scansion and exuberance. The project ultimately takes a theater format--"Brainstorm / Blank page // Scene set / Onstage"--but along the way, no art form goes unturned. There is cooking--"Pinch salt / Dice, chop // Click, flash / Time stop"--and then singing, sewing, ceramics, dance: "Big voice / On pitch // Pin, trim / Thread, stitch // Red clay / Round wheel // Spin, twirl / Toe, heel." Painting, knitting and music feature too. If readers never learn quite the essence of the final performance, that simply adds a frisson of excitement. Mixing gouache, charcoal and mixed media in digital collage, Newton shows the busy kids in constant motion, not hyperactive but vigorously productive. Adults appear only when it's time for an audience. The curtain rises on a scene revealing kids with a bass viol, construction outfit, chef's apron and tulle tutu, and the text's crescendo will send readers scampering off to do its bidding: "Big breath / Brave heart // Ready, set… // Make art!" Short and peppy enough for plenty of encores--until it's time to go make art. (Picture book. 3-6)

Product Details

Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
Edition description:
Library Edition
Product dimensions:
10.10(w) x 10.10(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
3 - 6 Years

Meet the Author

LIZ GARTON SCANLON is the author of the highly acclaimed, New York Times bestselling picture book All the World, illustrated by Marla Frazee, which was awarded a Caldecott Honor and received multiple starred reviews. Her other books include A Sock is a Pocket for Your Toes, illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser, and Noodle & Lou, illustrated by Arthur Howard. www.lizgartonscanlon.com

VANESSA BRANTLEY NEWTON is living her dream as an artist, after attending both the Fashion Institute of Technology and the School of Visual Arts. Vanessa wrote and illustrated Let Freedom Sing and Don't Let Auntie Mable Bless the Table. She is the illustrator of Magic Trash, Presenting...Tallulah by Tori Spelling, and One Love, based on the song by Bob Marley. oohlaladesignstudio.blogspot.com

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