I’m excited to announce the launch of a new animation I created with the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation. It’s the 50th anniversary of his children’s book “John Henry” and we created a 6 minute animated read-aloud. It was a great experience working with his original art work and making a video that is in keeping with his style. Hope you enjoy!
Working as an artist can be a lonely existence. It’s difficult to gauge if things are really working when you’re isolated from your audience. The same can be true when teaching young children; it’s hard to tell if your lessons are being comprehended when your students have a limited capacity for expression. But occasionally something happens to make you realize that things really are sinking in and that you’ve made a difference in someone’s understanding of the world.
Boy recreates the launch of "Imagination I" from EJ Keats "Regards to the Man in the Moon".
Regards to the Man in the Moon read aloud:
I’m creating a “Find the Differences” game for the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation and have been using photos of the original art with no text. I just found this video of a couple of children in a library reading the book. It’s been funny for me hearing the way kids read it because I’ve been so focused on the visuals while making the game, rather than the text of the book itself. “Find the Differences” games lend themselves to that because they are purely visual. The children in the video do a great job of both reading the text and describing the visuals.
I’ll never forget the time I was setting up class when a student ran up to me and excitedly thrust a picture he’d drawn at home in front of my face. In the center was a crude image of an airplane engulfed in flames flying directly at a high mountain. To the right was a smiling boy parachuting out of harms way.
“That’s me!” my 3rd grade student exclaimed.
“But who is that?” I said, pointing to the two horrified faces looking out the windows of the doomed plane.
“That’s my sister and my mom!” he said with a smile.
I caught my breath and didn’t know how to react. I was just a 22 year old art grad teaching at a local recreation center. I knew how to encourage children in their positive artistic pursuits but had no idea how to deal with such a dark vision.
His sister sauntered into the room and slumped in a chair as the other students wandered in. I took the image from the boy and put it on a high shelf in a cabinet. “That’s not a very nice way to picture your family. They look like they’re going to get hurt,” I said. “You can have the picture back after class.” He scowled at me and retreated to his seat.
When their mother came to pick them up an hour later I showed her the picture and explained what it depicted. She was taken aback. “That’s mean!” she yelled to the boy. “You love your sister!” She thanked me for sharing the image and dragged the two out the door with the picture clenched tightly in her fist.