The author/artist of several books of portraits made from found objects provides a lesson in how to see and make faces using child-friendly materials found in the junk drawer and elsewhere.
While his earlier works included tips about how to make portraits from random items, in this, Piven devotes a full book to it, introducing the concept to the very youngest. The first spread shows individual items that resemble faces: a toilet-paper dispenser, a boxy fan with knobs. From there he expands, asking tots to train their eyes to find similar patterns (eyes, nose, mouth and such) in groups of objects. One spread shows scattered plastic fruits and vegetables. With a turn of the page, Piven reveals the faces he sees by masking the extraneous items. (Cleverly, the outlines depict head-types of all sorts, such as peanut- or even footprint-shaped.) In this way, Piven conducts a conversation directly with his young art students; his comments are brief and appear in big, inviting type. After a few examples, Piven invites children to gather “stuff,” and, using it, he composes faces demonstrating a range of emotions: happy, goofy, scared and sleepy.
He closes with a spread containing seven more tips to get preschoolers started, the most important of which may be to “play, play, play!” This whimsical exercise is also a great lesson in reuse and recycling. (Picture book. 3-6)