Tag Archives: Vanessa Brantley Newton

Day 13, book 13: Think Big by Liz Garton Scanlon

Part of the fun of my 30 Days, 30 Picture Books Plan is discovering some new favourite illustrators. Am I ever glad I ordered Think Big from the library, because Vanessa Brantley Newton is the latest illustrator to make it onto my list of favourites. It makes me think that there must be so many brilliantly talented people out there whose work I’ve never seen, but would love if I did. That’s exciting, isn’t it?

Thing Big has TEACHER written all over it. I’m sure it will get a lot of circulation when I get a copy for my library, since it would be the perfect read aloud to launch an art class… or drama class… or music class…or photography class… or any class, since it’s really about taking risks, embracing creativity, and being a thinker. It’s a celebration of creating and cooperating through art, music, theater, cooking, dance, pottery, crafts and more.

Liz Garton Scanlon’s text is a bouncy, perfectly crafted poem that captures big ideas in the fewest possible words. No page has more than four words, which could be the launching point for a cool poetry lesson on what it means to pare ideas down. Since I first read the book, I’ve been thinking that I need to make a big poster to hang in the library to show off the fantastic ending to Scanlon’s poem:

Big breath,
Brave heart
Ready, set
Make art!

Vanessa Brantley Newton’s art is full of so much energy and spirit that you can practically feel the creative juices bubbling up inside of you as you notice the details on every page. She uses gouache and collage elements to put together scenes that delight on first glance but even more as you notice the clever details when you take a closer look, like the real rainbow tutu on the dancing cat, and the way that thematically appropriate dictionary definitions, for words like “inspire” and “happy” and “future,” are integrated into the collages at various points.

This book is full of kids who “do.” I love this, because that’s what learning and living is. I don’t think it could be communicated and celebrated any better than it is in Thing Big. Kinda makes me want to cheer, and then pass it on. The perfect pep talk for artists everywhere.

Think Big is published by Bloomsbury.