Author: Marthe Jocelyn
Paperback: 64 pages
Age Range: Grades 3 to 7/Ages 8 to 12
For young artists, tricksters, and crafters, here is a hip, friendly how-to manual for creating removable and shareable art projects from easily found materials. The sneaky part is in the installation! Each work of art is custom-created for display in public places — a tiny cork-bottomed boat in a public fountain, a plate of tiny paper cupcakes on your teacher’s desk, a penny left on the ground for a stranger, a funny message left on your mother’s bathroom mirror, and more. This utterly unique guide — part craft book, part art-philosophy — offers a stylish and sweet “made-you-look-twice” spirit of fun meant to put a smile on the faces of strangers and loved ones alike.
Margo: Welcome, Marthe. Let’s start with where you got the idea for the Sneaky Art book.
Marthe: Thanks for hosting me during the Sneaky Blog Tour, and Happy New Year! I’d have to say that the idea for the book came slowly and from several directions, but raising two kids in Manhattan and seeing the world from street-level, so to speak – or even gutter-level – was a main source of inspiration. There are many artists who leave their work on the street as graffiti and otherwise. There are also many strange lost or forgotten objects to be found on every block, each evoking a story and a moment’s pause. Thinking up easy projects for kids to contribute was an obvious next step.
Margo: Did you make each of these ideas yourself? Where did the beautiful photographs come from?
Marthe: Yes, I made every project in the book, with occasional help from young cousins. And although I am not a professional photographer, I also took all the pictures myself, figuring the non-professional look added to the feeling of you-can-do-it- too!
Margo: I think the photos are wonderful! Who is the perfect audience for your book?
Marthe: It turns out there is a widely-varied perfect audience. I started out thinking about inspiring kids to make stuff and share it. But the book is finding a great audience amongst teachers – especially those lacking in confidence to teach art. Grandparents are having a blast using it as the foundation for a clever family activity. Homeschool groups have sneaky art gatherings and expeditions. The book was nominated by the YALSA Quick Picks committee for ‘reluctant’ teenaged readers. Part of the point is not to simply follow the instructions in the book, but to nudge young artists to let their imaginations be fed by the materials or geography that’s available. I’m also trying to get mischief-makers to make their tricks artistic. That appeals to LOTS of people.
Margo: No doubt! Can you share with us one of your favorite sneaky art projects?
Marthe: It’s tough to pick a favorite, but I’m partial to the “Teeny Party” and the “Eensy-Weensy Washing Line”, both garlands made from paper scraps that brighten up any odd corner. I also have a soft spot for putting baby socks on chair legs…
Margo: So cute! How can teachers and parents use this book with kids?
Marthe: First of all, download the Teaching Sneaky Art guide at:http://www.marthejocelyn.com/files/Teaching_Sneaky_Art.pdf
as well as the PDF for the “Activity Kit” provided by the publisher, Candlewick Press. Once you’ve introduced the idea, brainstorm with the kids as to how the book’s suggestions spark more of their own ideas, for both the projects and the materials needed.
Make sure you allow for time and space when the creative phase is finished to carry out the final step of hiding the art and witnessing the satisfaction of the surprise. Also, if possible, give the kids the freedom to feel that they are sneaking YOU.
Margo: Great ideas! Where can people purchase the book?
Marthe: The book is available in Canada, the U.S. and Australia in many independent bookstores, in chain stores and online. Lots of libraries and schools have it, too.
Margo: Anything else you’d like to add?
Marthe: What are you waiting for? Make somebody laugh. Go get sneaky!
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