The Scraps Book: Notes from a Colorful Life
Scraps Book
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Lois Ehlert
ISBN 9781442435711
Beach Lane/S&S, 2014.
5 stars
Keywords: childhood creativity inspiration lois-ehlert memoir nature play scraps-notes-from-a-colorful-life

The Scraps Book: Notes from a Colorful Life
by Lois Ehlert

This succinct memoir is just right for a five-year-old, yet meaty enough to inspire adults. Caldecott Honor artist Lois Ehlert reveals the sources of her ideas, her planning stages and her wonderful collections of words, photos, paints and fabric swatches.

"When I was little, I read all the books on the library shelf, and I thought maybe someday I could make a book," she begins. A collage butterfly alights on a black-and-white photo of herself as a child of perhaps four or five. A collage image of a banded bunch of asparagus (from Eating the Alphabet) acts as a picket fence between a photo of Ehlert's parents ("returning home after hunting for wild asparagus") and a picture of the house where she grew up. Her mother sewed, her father had a basement workshop and, in a corner of the house, he set up a folding table for young Lois: "It was my spot, a place to work and dream." Ehlert shows her "spot" then and now, with more similarities than differences; she draws a linear progression from childhood play to adulthood creativity.

Ideas are everywhere, she tells children. Her sister's cat brushing her ankles inspired Feathers for Lunch. A walk is an opportunity to go "looking for good stuff" (such as seedpods, crab apples and pumpkin seeds, all of which made their way into her books). Ehlert reveals not only studies for her books but also lessons for a life well lived--observing, collecting, playing and creating. Brava!

This review first appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers.
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