Thursday, June 13, 2019


STAR OF THE CIRCUS by Michael & Mary Beth Sampson, illustrated by Jose Aruego & Ariane Dewey, is a delightful story of circus performers who each claim that they are the stars of the circus. Marvelous Mouse, Cannonball Cat, Dazzling Dog, Crazy Kangaroo, Zany Zebra and Big Bear are under one big top presided over by Elegant Elephant. The book has all the elements of a great pre-school read aloud where there is repetition of dialogue and bright, vibrant illustrations. After a silly turn of events, the performers realize by the end of the story that “we are all stars of the circus.”

While this book was in extreme disrepair, (criteria for use in my collages) it called to me for a couple of other reasons. The relatively recent demise of the “Greatest Show on Earth,” where after 146 years the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus folded and the ever evolving realization and understanding in our society that using animals for our entertainment as cruel and inhumane. It occurred to me as I looked through this book that the idea that a circus might include animals dressed in show clothes doing tricks would be as outrageous as me telling my students that we used to have to go in a booth and insert coins to a box with a corded handset to get in touch with another person. Change is good, but so too were the illustrations of the team of Jose Aruego and Ariene Dewey. No animals were hurt in the making of this collage, so please enjoy. Under The Big Top is available for purchase and could easily travel to your destination.

Monday, November 5, 2018


Visit your local library or shop your local indie bookstore.

My latest collage available for purchase is pictured below and based on the book Not A Box. Creating this collage was a challenge that I wasn’t expecting. You could say I was a bit "boxed in" - ok I'll stop now. When deconstructing and reconstructing a damaged book I follow a process that I designed when I first started making collages from damaged books. I detailed the process in my September 22, 2017 blog post. So why was this one a challenge? Most of the books I've recycled to date have stories with a beginning, middle, and end even if some pages are damaged beyond use a book I select to collage must have enough elements intact to stay true to the process. I struggled with my collage of Not A Box until I approached the piece/story as a concept and not a progressive arch. When I first selected this damaged book I thought I would I would have a little "quick" fun with a relatively common shape - the rectangle, on occasion a square, but I was not prepared for the amount of time that this collage tested my artistic sense and then - I was done!

Not A Box by Antoinette Portis, a Theodore Seuss Geisel Honor Award Winner, celebrates imagination and creativity in her book inspired by her own memories of her and her sister sitting in a box in their driveway. 

Boxes hold a special place in my heart and I have many fond memories of box inspired imaginative play as a child, parent and teacher. I remember my son's first Christmas when my mother-in-law gave him a wonderful and appropriate baby toy (don't remember it) but he (and we) were all memorized and captivated by his amusement in the empty toaster oven box from the gift we received. Over the years my son, nieces and nephews, students and even family pets enjoyed the many hours of imaginative play and fun a box provides. Below, second graders inspired by the book Second-Grade Friends by Miriam Cohen make life sized cards. 

As we approach the "season of giving" I encourage all to remember that books are not only presents you can open again and again, but reading with another person no matter the relation also makes memories to cherish.  Inbox me to buy the collage. Click on the book caption above to buy the book. I have yet to qualify for any cash back for book sales, but the links have been monetized. I present the NOT A BOX! Collage, enjoy.

18 x 22 Framed Under Glass

Friday, September 7, 2018


I am pleased and humbled to report that Corduroy has a new home! Corduroy went on a journey to the nation's capital this summer and the Collage is no longer available.

Shop your local indie bookstore or library
In other exciting news, Corduroy Takes a Bow, a new book by Academy Award winner Viola Davis is now available. 

Based on the character created by Dan Freeman, Ms. Davis writes her first book about Lisa taking Corduroy to the theater. 

Read or listen to Ms. Davis on NPR talk about the importance of reading and her experience of writing the sequel.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018


I should have known that this book was going to challenge me with possibilities but I think you will agree it's getting there! I've had lots of fun playing with texture, shape and pattern. The first picture is absolutely too busy. I love the patterns and am trying to find the best place for each box transformation.

In this next iteration I've decided on less pattern and more cardboard. Still too busy.

Do you see it coming together? Have you read the book yet? I hope so...

Where will this end up? I'm not sure but I will let you know how it all turns out.

Saturday, June 30, 2018


Go to your local library or shop your local indie bookstore.
My latest Recycled Story is based on the book Not A Box winner of a Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Award. I love this book and so do my students. I always try to have several different sized boxes for them to explore and play with when I read this story.

For my collage I thought I might add some origami paper for texture. Check back in a few weeks and we'll see how this Recycled Story turns out! 

Sunday, March 18, 2018


Visit your library or shop your local indie bookstore.

The Recycled Story I share with you today is the 1997 Caldecott Honor Book Hush! The story is a Thai Lullaby by Minfong Ho with pictures by Holly Meade. I hope my collage evokes the energetic persistence of the dutiful and caring mother who requests that a small mosquito, a long-tailed lizard, a lean black cat, a fat gray mouse, a bright green frog, a muddy fat pig, the glossy white duck, a loose-limbed monkey, an old water buffalo and a great big elephant be quiet so that her baby can sleep. The rhyme and repetition are great for preK/K story time. 

“Gray mouse, gray mouse,
don’t come squeaking.
Can’t you see that
Baby’s sleeping?”

Holly Meade’s illustrations capture the beauty and simplicity of the Thai home and the many “neighbors” that could disrupt the sleeping baby. Ultimately there is quiet and mother dozes off in the stillness at the windowsill.
Collage is in a brown frame, 16" x 20" not pictured here to avoicd glare from glass.

“Nothing’s stirring,
not a breeze,
As the moon drifts
up above the trees.
There is no noise now,
there is no sound.

Only Baby’s wide awake,
his eyes bright and round.”

Saturday, March 10, 2018


The collage I am sharing with you today is  on a small suitcase for a display I made for the annual Broadway Musical at my school. Using poster art, I created the collage to showcase some of the popular broadway musicals. Putting on a musical offers so many opportunities for learning but you don't need to put on a musical to enjoy the benefits of reading and learning about everything Broadway. Don't know where to start? PBS has a great 6 part series Broadway: The American Musical hosted by the one and only Julie Andrews. The series includes a teacher's guide and offers resources, recommended reading and standards based ideas across the curriculum. Or maybe my collage inspires you to embellish an existing poetry unit by including T.S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats! Need some inspiration for a younger audience? How about Lights on Broadway, A Theatrical Tour from A to Z by Harriet Ziefert comes complete with a CD. There's just so much to read and know - get going!
Visit your library or shop your local indie bookstore.
Visit your library or shop your local indie bookstore.