Scraps—of art supplies, of finished illustrations, of techniques and of memory—overlap in this blend of memoir and artistic how-to.
Right from the start, Ehlert decorates each page with collages of more than one material. Photos of gleaming scissors sit near a baby photo of herself with her mother, the text listing the “fabric scraps, buttons, lace, ribbons, and many scissors” that her mother shared with her. Photos of paint brushes, every bristle temptingly visible, overlap a childhood photo with her father, who shared wood scraps and taught her about painting, sawing and pounding nails. A photo of her parents “after hunting for wild asparagus” pairs with painted, collaged asparagus from Eating the Alphabet (1989). Tackling common questions, she frames art as eminently doable. (Where does she get her ideas? Mostly from the natural world: “On a trip to the aquarium, while I watched colorful fish swim by, a book idea swam into my brain.”) Some technical terms become clear by visual example; others require outside explanation (dummy book; “[m]echanical sketch showing die cut overlays”). Highlights include a line sketch of the iconic Chicka Chicka Boom Boom next to color swatches and final shapes and all the thumbnails—plus two text versions—of Feathers for Lunch (1990).
Readers will scurry to collage household and backyard tidbits; pair this with Ehlert’s other work for maximum satisfaction. (Picture book/memoir. 5-9)