Saturday, March 14, 2009

Palm Leaf Books

When I created a logo for Terry Farish's The Elephant Rag (see previous post), I spent some time with books in my collection from around the world. I was reminded of how beautiful the palm leaf books from India and Southeast Asia are and what an easy form it is to work with for children.

I used strips cut from a cereal box for the pages and and bread bag closures instead of beads. The page design is based on a photograph I saw of a page from a palm leaf book from India. The center border separates the text from the illustration. This is one of the sixteen projects in Multicultural Books to Make And Share. I make this book about sequence a lot with first grades.

The Elephant Rag
The Elephant Rag is a blog/magazine about children's books with voices from around the world. You'll find links to book lists, interviews, talk about race, and stories about amazing people. Follow the link from The Elephant Rag to Terry's website which has information about her books and workshops.

Books Around the World
A photo of an illustrated palm leaf book made in Bali can be found in Books Around the World, a photo essay written for children of books in my collection.

Information on the construction of palm leaf books

from the Buddha Mind website. Make sure you click on the small images on the left; they will lead you to more images.

Traditional Cambodian Books in FACES magazine
An article I wrote about Traditional Cambodian Books appeared in the September 1998 issue of FACES magazine. Each issue of the magazine focuses on a particular culture or topic. With the help of an interpreter, I interviewed the Venerable Sao Khon, the senior monk at the Triratanaram Temple in North Chelmsford, MA for the article.

The Elephant Rag

I was recently commissioned to create a logo for Terry Farish's wonderful blog/magazine about children's books with voices from around the world called The Elephant Rag. There you'll find links to book lists, interviews, talk about race, and stories about amazing people.

The logo was created in several stages. The background was built from images layered in photoshop: a photographed page from a book from Bhutan, plus scanned pages from a Mexican curandero book in Spanish from San Pablito and a book from Japan with the words to a Noh drama. All are muted so they blend together.

The elephant was drawn and the text lettered with my favorite pentel brush fountain pen. My first one was purchased from John Neal Bookseller but after a plane trip to Oregon this fall, I found that the ink flow was less controlled. I then began to use the pen I purchased while visiting Korea.

A light opacity of a scan of amate or amatyl bark paper from Mexico is laid over the entire image and an outer outline is from a scan of mashamba paper from Africa.

Word-A-Day Journal Report

Here's what I've been doing with my Word-A-Day Journal. Each day I write one word that is very specifically related to something I did that day. Sometimes I miss a few days but I do go back and fill in. After I skipped two pages by mistake, I now put the number of the day in the corner of each page at the beginning of the month. After the month ends, I go back and write a little bit on each page so I will remember the significance of the word and sometimes I add a very quick little drawing. I've posted some pictures on the Word-A-Day flickr group. You have to be a flickr member to join and the photos are available for viewing only to those who sign up for the Word-A-Day Journal group.

If you'd like to make your own, you can find my youtube tutorial here. I started at the beginning of the new year, but you can start at any time. Perhaps the first day of spring? Several correspondents have also mentioned giving them as birthday gifts.

April 2009 Workshops

Diamond Fold, Star, Spiral, And Necklace Books
Mass Reading Association Conference
Sturbridge, MA
Friday, April 3
1-2:30 PM

Inspire your students with this popular and versatile series of books that all start with the same folded unit. The books are excellent for separating the main ideas
from details and can be applied across the curriculum. The hands‐on session is designed to encourage creative thinking and experimentation as you learn specific techniques.

Creative Bookmaking
Global Studies
Framingham State College
Framingham, MA
Saturday, April 4
8:45 AM-3:00 PM

Books are wonderful vehicles for content across the curriculum. Students are inspired to write and research more when they have a handmade book to display their efforts. Making books also provides an opportunity for creative thinking as forms are varied and combined. This session will include combinations of fold and cut booklets, diamond fold books, and sewn bindings. Susan will teach you the forms and then work with you to vary and adapt them to create a number of different books and develop curriculum applications appropriate for your particular needs. You'll leave with sample books ready for the classroom and ideas for many more. For those who have taken Susan's workshops before, these sessions repeat some familiar techniques but allow more time for experimentation and development of ideas. Recycled materials will be used.

Think Green: Paper Bag Bookmaking
Newburyport Literary Festival
Newburyport, MA
Saturday, April 25
2:45-4 PM

What do you need to transform everyday materials into a book? Imagination, the creative urge, an ordinary paper bag and an old cereal box, that's what. For more than twenty years Newburyport bookmaker Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord has been inspiring children--in school and at home--to create original books from recycled materials. During her workshop for families with children 4 and older (all materials provided) everyone will make and illustrate books of their own.

Welcome to the Aquarium

Welcome to the Aquarium by Julie Diamond takes us through one year in the life of a kindergarten teacher and her class at P.S. 87 in New York City. Excerpts from her journal thread through the book in which she describes her teaching methods and philosophy and her struggles to bring out the best in her class and herself as a teacher. There are many practical pieces of information but to me the most important overall point is that she is a teacher constantly engaged in self reflection through which she grows as a teacher and keeps engaged in the process. Julie Diamond is the kindergarten teacher we all wish we and our children had.

Our resources are our own capacities: Our Capacity to observe, especially at moments when nothing seems to be going on. Our capacity to be surprised by something a child said or did or made. Our capacity to be puzzled, and to mine puzzlement, to see something that escaped us earlier. Our capacity to recognize whatever has deep personal meaning, for our students and also for ourselves (a colleague's class study of birds). Not least, our capacity for friendship—our searching out sympathetic people, who provide the human environment we need. I began the school year, after all, walking to school with a friend. These are steps teachers can make immediately, right now; these resources—the capacities for observation, surprise, puzzlement, and connection—are always present. "Education in its widest sense," Carlina Rinaldi says, is "a hope for human beings."

In recognizing what matters to children and to ourselves, we develop a culture of teaching. The more years we teach, the more we understand what the work entails; and the more complex, colorful, and detailed the culture becomes. In choosing to teach, year after year, we
learn to teach; we gain conviction and we discover again and again who are as teachers.

Welcome to the Aquarium
is particularly valuable to those who work with young children but Julie Diamond's understanding of teaching has value for anyone involved in education. I found that three chapters, Collages: Making Art, Finding Curriculum: A Study of Squirrels, and The Uses of Literacy: Reading and Writing, were particularly applicable to bookmaking.