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Nature's Paint Box: A Seasonal Gallery of Art and Verse

Last updated Monday, March 31, 2008

Author: Patricia Thomas
Illustrator: Craig Orback
Date of Publication: 2007
ISBN: 0822568071
Grade Level: 3rd    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Apr. 2008

Synopsis: From Barnes and Noble: Considering nature as artistic medium, Thomas opens with a poem about nature sketching winter; Orback illustrates it, adding bits of color on succeeding pages. The warmth of the final winter page leads the reader into spring. Here the conceit is that nature "draws spring in pastel chalk" and softly colored pages reflect the poetry about the births of animals and buds on trees. Spring ends with rain and leads into summer's watercolors. These pictures are much more vibrant than during spring: "Summer colors sparkle." When Thomas begins her poem about autumn, the illustrations are oils in large blotches of fiery oranges and yellows. And Thomas crowds names of colors into long words: "redorangepurplebronze / indigogoldgreen. . . ." Finally, the poem returns full circle to winter's black-and-white ink drawings. There is a strikingly rare synergy between the poetry and the illustrations in this truly remarkable addition to the pantheon of books on the four seasons for school-aged children.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  What do you see in the four pictures on the cover?
•  What season is in each picture?
•  What colors do we see in each season?
•  What is your favorite season? Why?
•  What is your favorite color?
•  What seasons do we see in LA?
•  What season is your birthday in?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Does it snow in LA in the winter?
•  The book says that winter is black and white. What other colors do you see in the winter?
•  What animals do we see in the spring time?
•  Do you like to swim in the summer?
•  Do you see autumn leaves? Where? What color are they?

Craft ideas:
•  Fold two pieces of paper in half to make a book with four pages. Draw a picture of each season on each page.
•  As you are reading the book, have kids draw what they hear in pencil. Afterwards, have them color their pictures in.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don't have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!