September 11, 2011
Ed Emberley is a Caldecott Medal-winning Massachusetts artist and writer who has published scores of books. If you were a child in the 70's or 80's, you would probably recognize his work even if you don't recognize his name. My art teacher mom is a big fan, and I have great memories of making thumbprint drawings like those in his book Ed Emberley's Complete Funprint Drawing Book. His drawing books for children take basic shapes that young children can easily draw and shows them how to combine them to create a million different things. No reading necessary!
After mulling it over as if I was choosing a spouse, I settled on Ed Emberley's Picture Pie as our jumping-in point. The concept of this book, originally published in 1984, is that a whole world of creatures can be created by taking a circle and cutting into eighths or quarters, then reassembling the pie pieces in certain ways. My kids love punching circles and using their little scissors, so I knew they'd love this book, and I liked the math element as a kind of added bonus. When the book arrived in the mail, my sons both spent hours poring over the colorful images. Emberley's tone is gentle, empowering, and accessible. We got ourselves a big pile of scrap paper and got to work. My two-year-old needed a bit of assistance, but both kids were absolutely thrilled with their work and as busy as little bees. This book has now become a part of our daily routine.
I'll be picking up more Emberley books for our house, and I hope you'll try one out in your house, too.