Mole’s Hill

I am starting to introduce the Kindergarten classes to the difference between Author and Illustrator. I make it a habit of reading the Title, Author and Illustrator before I start reading a book. Most times the children love repeating back the names to me. It seem that people who write books don’t have common names. This week I am focusing on the job of an illustrator. I try to get the kindergarten classes to look at a picture and decide why the illustrator decided to use that type of art. It isn’t uncommon for the children to think that all pictures are painted or drawn. They don’t tend to realize that the illustrator of a book can use many different types of artistic expression to get their point across. I love to introduce them to books where the art work isn’t typical. One of my favorite examples is Mole’s Hill by Lois Ehlert.

Lois Ehlert is known for her beautiful collage artwork. Her text is always simple, highlighted by vivid colors and texture. Mole’s Hill is perhaps lesser known then her more famous works, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and Color Zoo yet, I believe it to be the better of the three.

ribbon applique

The story is based on a Seneca tale called “When Friends Fall Out”. The story is set in the woodlands of Wisconsin and the illustrations are inspired by the Woodland Indian’s artwork. Typical art forms used by the Woodland Indians are ribbon applique and sewn bead work. Clearly, the geometric patterns and shapes of Ehlerts book are meant to mimic the same patterns and shapes used by the Native American’s who inspired the story.  Ehlert also took special care to represent the plants and animals found in the Wisconsin woods in her book. They are beautifully illustrated with bright color cut outs and textured paint.

It always take the kindergartner’s a few minutes after reading the book to figure out how the pictures are made. Usually, I hear photos, paint, drawing. I ask them to look closer and pass the book around. Eventually one child, in great excitement yells out, “it is paper!”

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