#Kidlit: Art Lesson Using A Celebration of Beatrix Potter Book

Have you considered doing a lesson on picture book illustrators, which would combine aspects of art, literature, and history?  A Celebration of Beatrix Potter: Art and letters by more than 30 of today’s favorite children’s book illustrators by Beatrix Potter (and many others) is a perfect resource to get you started.

Last year, 2016, was the 150th anniversary of Beatrix Potter’s birth. To honor her, thirty-two famous children’s book illustrators produced artwork and stories inspired by Potter’s picture books. The featured illustrators range from Lauren Castillo and Tomie dePaola to Rosemary Wells and Pamela Zagarenski. See Kelly Murphy’s website for one example.

The official word is this book is for readers grades three up. You might be skeptical, but it does have the potential to appeal to a range of ages.  Younger children will be probably be captivated by the assortment of illustrations and the excerpts from Potter’s children’s books. Adults will be interested in the accompanying essays by the illustrators, as well as the historical tidbits provided as background for Potter’s books. For example, we learn The Tailor of Gloucester was Beatrix Potter’s favorite and that it was based on a true story. How fun!

A Celebration of Beatrix Potter is a treasure trove to explore, especially for readers interested in art and books. It is valuable as a resource for art and history lessons, and as a reference. But best of all it is a fitting tribute to Beatrix Potter’s genius. Check out a copy today.

Examples of ways to use the book for art lessons:

Activity 1. Exploring Illustrations


  • A Celebration of Beatrix Potter
  • Books by the featured illustrators
  1. Free exploration:   Encourage children to examine the illustrations in A Celebration of Beatrix Potter closely. They may be surprised by what they discover. For instance, David Wiesner points out Jeremy Fisher (a frog) has tiny non-frog feet with shoes on when he’s out of the water. Look at the thickness of the lines, the colors, textures, etc.
  2. Challenge:  Show an illustration from another book by one of the featured illustrators (without identifying the illustrator). See if the children can figure out who the illustrator is by matching similarities to illustrations in A Celebration of Beatrix Potter. Hint:  Rosemary Wells and Tomie dePaola might be good illustrators to start with.

Activity 2:  Warm and Cool Colors


  • Paper
  • Crayons
  • Colored pencils
  • Markers
  • Optional:  Paints and paintbrushes

Explain that colors on a color wheel are divided into warm and cool colors based on how they relate to our experiences and how they make us feel. Warm colors are red, orange, and yellow. Cool colors are green, blue, and purple.

Show the children an illustration filled with cool colors, like Jon Agee’s illustration on page 33. Contrast it with an illustration with warm colors like Rosemary Well’s illustration on page 51. You can also compare the winter scenes on page 46 with the warm interior scenes on page 47. Ask the children to point out the warm and cool colors in each. Encourage them to describe how they feel about each illustration. Why do they think the artist chose those colors?

Have the children create their own illustrations using mostly cool or mostly warm colors. If they have the time and interest, have them create an illustration with the opposite colors and compare them.


Take a peek inside from Google Books:


Age: Grade 3+
Hardcover: 112 pages
Publisher: Warne (November 1, 2016)
ISBN-10: 0241249430
ISBN-13: 978-0241249437

Beatrix Potter had pet rabbits as a child.

Disclosure: This book was supplied by our local library. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.



Looking for more children’s nonfiction books? Try the Nonfiction Monday blog.

Taking a Sabbatical from Reviewing Children’s Books

When I started Wrapped in Foil blog on January 6, 2009 I wrote, “Seems to be a little crazy to be starting another blog right now.” I went ahead and did it anyway. Now seven years later, it’s time to take a break.

The reason I will no longer be posting here isn’t very dramatic. It’s simply because I’m writing a novel (or two or three) and I have too many blogs to keep them all active at the same time. As a very wise woman recently told me, we don’t have forever to complete our projects. It’s time for me to do my own writing, unfortunately at the expense of promoting other people’s books and children’s literacy.

I want to thank my loyal followers and fellow bloggers for being such a wonderful children’s book community. I will miss you.

If you would like to continue following my work, please visit It’s a Mystery Blog or Roberta Gibson Writes where I’ll be sharing information about my writing journey. I will also still review children’s science books at Growing With Science and Science Books for Kids.  Hope to see you there.

poppy II




Molly Bang’s Picture This – 25th Anniversary Edition Coming Fall 2016

Have you ever been to a workshop where you went in expecting one experience and then were blown away by a totally different one? At the Tucson Festival of Books last weekend I went to a workshop by award-winning children’s book illustrator Molly Bang, mainly to hang out with a friend. I expected the workshop to be a discussion of some of Bang’s recent works. Instead it was a mind-blowing hands-on lesson in how to create emotion in illustrations based on her book, Picture This.

In the workshop Molly Bang went over some fundamentals about how to build a scary picture versus a soothing picture using simple shapes of different colors. She then gave the members of the audience the opportunity to apply the ideas by making our own illustrations using four colors of construction paper. Afterwards she assembled all the works on the floor and we got to see the multitude of ways the techniques came together.

Surprisingly, even though I have no aspirations to become a children’s book illustrator, I found many of the things applicable to my own recent writing project. I could see how our visceral responses to color, shape and relative positioning of objects could be elicited through words as well as art. It was fascinating!

Molly Bang is known for her children’s books, but Picture This: How Pictures Work is written for adults, particularly those interested in the arts.  It is so popular that Chronicle Books is releasing a 25th Edition version in the Fall of 2016. You can pre-order it at Amazon here.


Brief Bio:  Although her mother had studied medical illustration, Molly Bang didn’t take up illustration until after trying several other careers, including a degree in French and a reporting stint that ended when she was fired. She started illustrating folktales, and later branched out into writing her own stories. Her work with children’s books has led to numerous awards, including Caldecott Honors. Recently has written several science books, and in 2010 Living Sunlight: How Plants Bring the Earth to Life won the AAAS/Subaru SB & F Prize for Excellence in Science Books.

Molly has a wonderful discussion of how Picture This came about on her website. I really appreciate her insight that since she didn’t feel she understood something, she taught a class about it. I agree that in addition to being an expert on a topic, teaching can be a wonderful way to force you to gather and organize materials on a subject, as well was get feedback from the students.  It’s a two-way process.

She also has a free manual to download:  How to Write a Hero/ine Adventure Journey Folktale: A Manual for Teachers of Grades 8 and 9

See more of her books at Molly Bang’s Amazon Author Page.