Magazine article Art Education

Using Picture Books to Teach Fairy Tales from the Collection of the Mazza Museum

Magazine article Art Education

Using Picture Books to Teach Fairy Tales from the Collection of the Mazza Museum

Article excerpt

(Recommended for Grades 4-6)

Picture books are the first visual arts experience many students encounter. A picture book equally emphasizes text and illustrations, and though the text often receives most of the attention, in the best cases, the pictures are excellent resources for teaching about creating and responding to images. For a resourceful teacher who knows how to use the library, picture books are an art museum waiting to be explored; a collection of many individual works of art representing a wide range of media and techniques and employing an even wider range of art styles. When they become familiar with the art of picture books, students are comfortable interpreting the images found in them.

This Instructional Resource uses four images from picture books as the basis for studying fairy tales, analyzing images, and writing. All images are from the Mazza Museum: International Art from Picture Books, a teaching museum that exhibits and preserves original art from picture books. With the increased focus on literacy in schools and recent trends in book arts, these lessons present an exciting combination of activities that meet many curriculum standards in both language arts and visual arts. A collaboration involving a visual arts teacher, a language arts teacher, and a librarian is ideal for this study.


After completing these activities, students will be able to:

* Identify elements in an image that contribute to its magical quality

* Create short and long descriptive analyses of images from fairy tales

* Write, illustrate, and analyze alternative endings to familiar fairy tales

The Castle

From Rumpelstiltskin's Daughter, 1997, Morrow Junior Books

By Diane Stanley

Colored pencil and gouache

14.75'' x 21.75''

Collection of the Mazza Museum: International Art from Picture Books

About the author/illustrator

Raised by a mother who wrote fiction, Diane Stanley was trained as a medical illustrator and worked as a freelance artist for many years. Stanley enjoyed reading to her three children when they were young, discovered a passion for picture books, and later decided on a career change. Her first book, llie Farmer in the Dell, was published in 1977, when she was 34. She is best known for meticulously researched, yet easy to read, biographies and accounts of historical events. She has written and illustrated over 30 books, many of them co-authored with her husband, Peter Vennema.

About the book

The whimsically detailed illustrations in Rumpelstiltskiris Daughter (1997) show countless facial expressions that can be read as a collection of mini-portraits. The illustrations make the reader laugh and commiserate with the characters, as a good portrait will do.

The story is familiar. The poor miller's daughter, here named Meredith, is commanded by the evil, greedy king to spin straw into gold, and he promises to marry her as a reward. Unable to turn straw into gold, Meredith is distraught, until a small man named Rumpelstiltskin suddenly appears and announces that he can. Stanley varies the familiar story by having Meredith escape the selfish king, marry the generous and kind Rumpelstiltskin, and together raise a daughter named Hope. One day, when Hope is 16 years old she takes her father's spun gold into a nearby town and the greedy king suspects that she has magical gold-making skills. He locks Hope in a room filled with straw atop the palace tower and commands her to create gold. Instead, Hope devises an inventive plan that benefits the villagers and eventually helps the king reform his bad habits.


1. Fairy tales begin by describing the setting. Stanley visually describes the setting of the story through JJie Castle image. Before reading the story, look only at the picture, and write a description of the setting based only on the image. In effect, students will be practicing the "interpretation" step in art criticism. …

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