WHAT'S THAT, MOM? by Shala K.  Howell


How to use public art to engage your children with the world around them...without being an artist yourself
From the "Caterpickles Parenting" series, volume 1
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A debut how-to book that aims to help parents cultivate creativity in kids ages 3 to 10.

In 2012, when Howell took her 5-year-old to traditional art museums, the little girl was bored and wanted to go home. The stiff, quiet atmosphere and the fact that she wasn’t allowed to touch any of the artworks caused her to lose interest. However, things changed in her town of Dedham, Massachusetts, when 15 artist-decorated fiberglass rabbits were installed in public places. Suddenly, the girl became excited about art. In part, this was because she was free to touch each piece, run around them, and shout out questions about how they were created. She even got to meet a few of the artists. The experience was so good that the author—who also has a blog called Caterpickles—decided to create this colorful guide. In it, she passes along 15 practical tips for using public art to stoke kids’ creativity. The easy-to-browse tips contain short anecdotes about the Dedham bunnies featuring Howell’s inquisitive daughter. The author’s voice is friendly throughout, though some tips—such as “Five Minutes Really Is All It Takes” and “Make Time For Play”—will be obvious to many parents. Others are more compelling, however; at one point, for instance, Howell advises readers to think about the significance of an artwork’s location. In her town, a piece called Leroy the Peace Rabbit caused controversy when it was installed next to a veterans’ memorial, but it enabled her to have conversations with her child about how people can have different reactions to the same art. Other important discussions arose when her daughter discovered that another work, Bengal Bunny, had been vandalized. Bright, cheerful photographs of the art adorn the pages of this slim guide; in a cute twist, a few of these images were taken by the author’s daughter with a Fisher Price Kid-Tough digital camera. Overall, Howell proves with this guide that anyone can nurture a lifelong love of art in little ones.

Simple but effective tips for busy parents.

Pub Date: Sept. 3rd, 2017
ISBN: 978-0-9982891-0-6
Page count: 82pp
Publisher: Caterpickles Press
Program: Kirkus Indie
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