Sonderbooks Stand-out

Sonderbooks Book Review of

The Scraps Book

Notes from a Colorful Life

by Lois Ehlert


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The Scraps Book

Notes from a Colorful Life

by Lois Ehlert
Review posted September 22, 2014.
Beach Lane Books, New York, 2014. 72 pages.
Starred Review
2014 Sonderbooks Stand-out: #4 Children's Nonfiction

Lois Ehlert makes wonderful picture book art, including the classic which I bought for my oldest son and quickly became a favorite in our family, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.

This book tells a bit about how art found Lois Ehlert since childhood and led to her satisfying career. I say “a bit” because this is a picture book. There’s a little bit of text on each page, but mostly the book is made up of images.

There are pictures of the author as a child with her parents. There is a picture of the folding table her father set up for her to do art. There is a picture of the pinking shears her mother used on fabric, which Lois still uses. And on almost every page, there are elements of art that went into her many different books. She shows her method of collage and has a word of encouragement for budding artists: “If you feel that way too, I hope you’ll find a spot to work, and begin.”

The text is simple, with just a sentence or two of the main thread on each page, with the rest made up of many little notes about the art. The style reminds me of that in Feathers for Lunch, since you can read it on a couple different levels – reading the overarching main text, or getting delightfully absorbed in the details.

This book is fascinating for someone like me who has no desire to be an artist, in that it looks behind the scenes at the creation of some brilliant picture books. How much more inspiring I think it will be for kids who are interested in doing art.