This week’s highlighted creativity book is a new children’s picture book I recently discovered: The Marvelous Thing That Came From a Spring: The Accidental Invention of the Toy That Swept the Nation by Gilbert Ford and photography by Greg Endries. Those who know me know that my educational background includes research on the development of visual literacy, especially through the viewing and reading of children’s picture books. I get excited at the creative books that are written and illustrated for children and am on the lookout for books that encourage readers’ curiosity, creativity and urge for making and inventing. This book fits the bill.
The story itself is fascinating as Ford recounts the true story of how Richard James and his wife Betty invented the slinky. The message of using one’s imagination and creativity, being open to new ideas and pursuing one's dream is the underpinning of this story of the invention of the much loved Slinky toy.
It is a great story, however, the method for the making of the illustrations is even more exciting to me and would be to makers and artists as well. I was pleased to find this information in the opening publisher pages of the book: “The illustrations for this book were drawn and colored digitally and then printed, assembled with found objects into dioramas, and photographed.” This insight encouraged me to "read" the illustrations with more depth and attention than I may have done without reading that note. (An aside...I recommend that whenever you are reading children's picture books, look for any illustration information in the front or back pages of the book so you can have a fuller experience when reading the visuals.)
Most of the illustrations in The Marvelous Thing That Came From a Spring include a photographed 3 dimensional slinky-like coil and it is fun to search it out on each page. Other 3D items are used alongside Ford’s 3D paper creations…things like washcloths representing manicured lawns, miniature toys, dominos, vintage rulers and toothpicks to frame illustrations, yarn, pipe cleaners and various paper items. The illustrations are a visual feast for the eyes and a great means for encouraging young readers to use their own creative spirit.
The process that Ford uses to create his illustrations is fascinating and you can see Ford demonstrating and describing it through this video posted by blogger, 20 By Jenny as she interviewed him about this book and his other work. If you are interested to find out more about this talented illustrator and author, read the entire interview at 20 by Jenny site.
Other resources related to this book you may be interested in:
Gilbert Ford’s Website for more information
For teachers and parents: A curriculum guide for The Marvelous Thing That Came From a Spring
A teaser… if you found this book interesting and want to see another creative picture book about a the invention of a child’s toy, the Super-Soaker squirt gun, check out this book:
Whoosh!: Lonnie Johnson's Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions by Chris Barton and illustrated by Don Tate.