Monday, November 5, 2018


Visit your local library or shop your local indie bookstore.

My latest collage that is 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.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018


"Did I say that?"
Inspired by the quote attributed to Mahatma Gandhi “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” Also often seen as “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” I ask you, did he really say that? Certainly for many of us he did practice what he preached. But let's use the possibility that history and the capturing of truth does have elements like the “telephone game” and can change to suit the needs/rhetoric of the time.

I ask you to consider this possibility because the next collage that I am sharing with you is a collage that almost didn't happen. Sometimes it seems that there are so many injustices in our world. How do we right the wrongs of the past and make changes that bring about fairness and equity to all? The good news is that there are many ways. For the time, forget about the small amount of people that don’t believe in this ideal and start this minute in positive ways to make changes in the life you lead.

Visit your library or shop your local indie bookstore.
In my post today, I talk about a major way educators, caregivers and parents can present and use materials to be that change (regardless of who said it). I will use my collage of the damaged book Brother Eagle, Sister Sun by Susan Jeffers as an example. The illustrations by award winning illustrator Susan Jeffers are stunning. She has created many memorable picture books and her artwork is nothing short of amazing. Brother Eagle, Sister Sun is beautifully illustrated and topical in its environmental message. Released in 1991 by the American Division of Dial Books, it received the ABBY Book of the Year Award given by the American Booksellers Association. 

Well intentioned to be sure, the criticisms that follow the book are to be considered, debated (in an upper elementary, middle or high school classroom) and help form your own benchmark for what makes meaning going forward. Let’s start our discussion with Chief Seattle and his words as they are presented in Jeffer's book. These words were translated and rewritten over time and while the Suquamish Indian tribe and Chief Seattle undoubtedly did not agree with the non-natives' intrusion and destruction of the land, the original words of the great chief were thought to be much more about the desecration of the Indian people’s way of life in a land that no one could own. As further evidence of a common misconception and rewriting of the Chief's oration, I have pictured a greeting card that I purchased some years ago. Jeffer’s is criticized further for her after note claiming that “The origins of Chief Seattle’s words are partly obscured by the mists of time. “ Seattle is an important person to study and we can learn much from the Suquamish People today. You may also want to read the 1854 Oration version 1. Chief Seattle was not talking about environmentalism.

Other areas of criticism are the pictures themselves. Jeffers is accused of perpetuating racial stereotypes. A few of the claims include; Chief Seattle wearing a Sioux headdress,  subsequent photos that tell the “story” are of indigenous people on horseback (click here for history and culture), and in addition to the Caucasian boy featured on the cover, a Caucasian family rescues the destroyed forest by planting a tree. 

16 x 20 (frame not shown)
There are many teachable moments in Brother Eagle, Sister Sky that I challenge you to not cast this book aside but rather raise your awareness by it’s use. Some present day sites continue to suggest using the book for "environmental awareness" but I'm not so sure that is appropriate. I selected to share this collage at a time when we as a society are questioning truth. There were quite a few times while researching this book that I thought I should not make this collage. Ironically, in all my years of teaching it was a book on my shelf but I never taught with it. Now, I offer a solution that we not destroy and hide our mistakes, but rather learn and grow by properly vetting and
Identity Close Up
discussing our own prejudices, historical inaccuracies and pledge to “right the wrongs” of our collective pasts. While it is difficult to capture in a photograph the nuances of my collages, you will hopefully see that I deviated from some of my "rules" to finish this collage. In this collage I did not use a "
précis" of the book but rather found words and sentences that described how indigenous people were victimized, persecuted and betrayed. My main focus however was identity. I found a wonderful VIEWPOINT in Native Peoples magazine (NOV/DEC 2001) written by Taffy Gallagher on the theft of one's identity. In her piece, Ms. Gallagher recounted a grade school encounter with another student that claimed, "You're Not Indian." Ms. Gallagher's green eyes and light skin did not add up to "Indian" for her classmate. I have woven some of the sentences from her piece in to the collage as well as other words from Native Peoples magazine and a 1991 edition of National Geographic which featured "1491 America Before Columbus." 

American Indians in Children's Literature is a great resource. If you have specific questions or issues with my piece, please inbox me. This was one of the hardest collages I almost didn’t do.