This month, our Hooked on Books author is Barbara Reid! She is an award-winning illustrator and author who uses plasticine art to enhance words and make them come to life. Barbara is truly passionate about Family Literacy Day, as a long-term partner of ABC Life Literacy Canada. She also loves reading class letters and responds to students, so feel free to write her a letter addressed to the Scholastic Canada King Street office in Toronto, Ontario. Check out our interview below with this Canadian icon!
What is Hooked On Books?
Our team at Teachers on Call loves to read and encourage students and their families to do the same. With Hooked on Books, we introduce our community to the latest children’s book with a behind the scenes author interview to learn more. There is also a chance to win the debut book in a social media giveaway, with a grand reveal of the winner(s) by the featured author themself. A large focus is introducing readers to Canadian authors and illustrators from coast to coast with a mix of emerging and well-known literary talent including Chris Ferrie, Jess Keating and Rumeet Billan – just to name a few.
About Our Author: Barbara Reid
Barbara Reid is a long-time author who graduated from The Ontario College of Art and Design in downtown Toronto, Ontario. She is a picture book illustrator and author whose award winning artwork is created with plasticine.
Thank you for entering our giveaway to win Barbara Reid books!
A big thank you to everyone in the Teachers on Call community who entered our giveaway to win a 3-book package, courtesy of Barbara Reid and Scholastic Canada! There was great participation on Facebook. We loved reading comments shared on our contest post to answer our question: What you made the last time you played with Plasticine!
Click on video to find out our winner, selected by Barbara Reid personally!
We’re super thrilled to have had Barbara Reid with us for an interview! Check out her answers to our questions.
Which came first in your life, writing stories or working with plasticine?
That’s a chicken and egg question! From my earliest childhood stories and art have been inseparable. Before I could read or write I made up stories for my toys to act out, I drew pictures to go with stories that my mum read to me and I made endless plasticine dioramas. Learning to read gave me even more inspiration. As a teen I was sketching characters from Wuthering Heights, copying cartoons from Mad Magazine and borrowing picture books from the library. Plasticine took a back seat to drawing for a few years, but words and pictures are still best friends.
The way your books are illustrated is lovely and unique! What made you decide to use plasticine as your medium for book illustration?
At art college I studied illustration and explored a variety of materials. Illustrators are like actors; we crave an audience. I used plasticine as a last-minute solution to a class project. When it was displayed everyone laughed! The rest is history. I don’t like to think too hard about what is appealing about modelling clay art, I just know that it is tremendously expressive, I have fun telling stories with it, and kids can do it too. A seven-year-old wrote to me: “It’s crazy that you can make playing with plasticine a career! I want to learn how to make plasticine art.” I can’t even describe how happy that made me feel.
Do you have any advice for parents whose kids enjoy art?
Kids that enjoy art will find a way to create, but three things can help them grow: materials, time and encouragement. Materials don’t have to be expensive, and recycled materials make great art supplies. Creativity takes time. Most artists need some quiet time alone to daydream, tinker, make mistakes and develop skills. Encouragement is important for everyone. I also encourage young creators to enter contests. You can find many online through libraries and child related organizations, from writing to bookmark design contests. It’s a great way to focus on a challenge and boost confidence.
Tough question: which book of the ones you’ve written is your all-time favourite?
Each of my books has a special place in my heart for different reasons. I’ll dodge that question by saying my current favourite is the one I’m working on! The manuscript is by the wonderful Canadian author Emil Sher. It is based on word play about love featuring a mum and child and the narrative is told through the art. It is deliciously difficult! The title is pending, but it will be published by Scholastic Canada in fall 2021.
Tell us about your latest book!
My latest book is Watch It Grow: Backyard Life Cycles published by Scholastic Canada. It features the life cycles of four familiar plants and animals: Monarch butterfly, sunflower, oak tree and frog. Nature is a favourite subject for me, and I loved making the illustrations. Science and art stem from curiosity and observation – something kids have in abundance. I like to imagine this book inspiring future artists and scientists and fostering a love of the natural world. I definitely hope it encourages kids and families to go outside and discover to what’s growing in their neighborhoods.
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