Vol. 13, No 1. (page 1)


A Unit of Study

Words and images are two fundamental means of human communication and expression. Each makes a powerful statement about life regardless of culture or language or location. Uniting words and images in a book usually delivers the shared vision of two people: the author and the illustrator. This can easily be seen in many children’s picture books. Authors of such books communicate engaging stories for young people by way of brief sentences and simple story lines while the underlying ideas are expanded and enhanced by the images developed and added by an artist or illustrator.
Yet when the same person is both artist and author of a book, exciting opportunities are afforded for a more meaningful and complete form of communication. Many individuals have served as both author and artist for the same books.
Chris Van Allsburg and Faith Ringgold are examples of such individuals. Van Allsburg has written and self-illustrated fourteen children’s books. He describes the writing process as one of intriguing discovery. In the creative process of writing the story, the pictures are seen clearly in his “mind’s eye.” Illustrating for Van Allsburg is a matter of choosing what parts of his story to then draw. Van Allsburg’s works used in this unit are his book, The Polar Express, and a print taken of the illustration featured on the cover and the second double page of the book.
Faith Ringgold, who is more an artist than a writer has written and self-illustrated twelve children’s books. The works used in this unit are Faith Ringgold’s first book Tar Beach and a print of her original story quilt painting,

that is featured as the cover art for the book. The original story quilt painting by Faith Ringgold is in the collection of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City. Ringgold’s original artwork has the text written on the fabric around the border of the story quilt painting. It is a blend of autobiography and fiction. The book includes the same text, though slightly altered. The illustrations in the book are taken from details of the original story quilt painting. However, Ringgold created entirely new paintings for the book using similar background patterns to those in her original quilt painting.

Note: The suggested grade level for this unit is grade six, but the materials can be adapted by the teacher for other levels as desired. It could also be taught as collaboration between the art and classroom teachers


Overview of Lessons... p. 2
Lesson 1: Chris Van Allsburg and The Polar Express .. p. 4
Lesson 2: Lesson Summary .. p.7
Lesson 3: Summaries and Student Created Storybooks .. p.8
ART-O-GRAM .. p.11
Student Reproducible Page: A Quilt Picture .. p.12
Lesson Handouts: .. pp. 13 - 18

Shockwave Quilt Game


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