April 8, 2010

Why Mosquitoes Buzz

I mentioned yesterday that the bugs are out early and that includes mosquitoes. We hatched prehistoric mosquitoes this year. I swear I have never seen them so big. In the evenings I grab the kids and we make a mad dash to the car, praying we can get in and buckled before the mosquitoes swarm us. The experience reminded me that we have just the right book for the season:

Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears: A West African Tale by Verna Aardema

Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears: A West African Tale
In this classic "why" fable, a mosquito tells a lie, setting off a chain of events that eventually leads to the sun failing to rise. When the animals get together to figure out what caused this calamity, they realize the mosquito is to blame. Although they call for her to be punished, sneaky mosquito escapes. To this day she still goes about "whining in people's ears: 'Zeee! Is everyone still angry at me?" The answer? "KPAO!"

What I love about this book are its incredible illustrations. I'm not surprised it was a Caldecott winner, just look at these scenes:

The white outlines and gradient colors are so unique, I wanted to try something similar with my girls. For A I took the wax crayon that came with our egg dying set and traced a coloring book owl. Then I let her sit at the table and paint. Yes, I'm insane. Who in their right mind gives a 21 month old a paint brush and paint?!? We did really well for about 5 minutes and then she decided it was much more fun to splash in the water cup, fling the wet paintbrush around the room, and paint her sister's arm. Eventually it turned into a full blown tantrum and craft time was over.

I filled in some of the white space, but overall I think the picture turned out pretty good. We might try it again when she's a little older.

For E, I wanted to do one of those coat-a-painting-in-crayon-and-scrape-away-to-draw. I remember doing those as a child, but this one failed miserably. The crayon did not scrape away. Do you need a special kind of paper? We tried to salvage the art by creating a mixed media collage.

Honestly, it's a good metaphor for the kind of day we are having.... I keep trying to salvage the day, but I think I just need a small vacation from the kids! Anyone want to come over and babysit?

I'm linking up to:
- stART at A Mommy's Adventure


  1. Sounds like you had quite a time! My toddler son thinks it is fun to wipe paint on his clothes when he paints. We haven't try black crayon scratch art yet but now I'll have to experiment!

  2. The crayon resist turned out good :) I've seen several failed crayon resists on other sites - so at least you conquered that one!

  3. The illustrations are indeed stunning. They make me think of stained glass windows, or perhaps batik work. We've recently read Bimwili and the Zimwi also by Verna Aardema (a lovely story, with nice illustrations but not so design conscious as these ones you show here) - it seems she does a lot of African folk tales. I'd like to find more of her stuff. I've not done scraping crayon thing since I was a kid but what i remember is that you have to do two layers of crayon - one coloured or multicoloured which you then colour over with a black crayon. Scraping away the black crayon leaves the coloured crayon underneath. Is this what you tried to do?

  4. Those projects turned out great! The book looks great too, must see if I can find it!

  5. Even though neither project turned out quite the way you may have envisioned both are really cute and successful. I think it's great when art evolves as your work on it. The owl is cute, and I was givin' ER an paintbrush then too. It's important to give them opportunities, ER took to it right away. She loved that kind of stuff right away. Not sure about that scrape away picture, have always seen them in kits with special paper. Had no idea you could make your own versions. But the end result is very cute nonetheless.

  6. I am a new follower to your blog! The illustrations are amazing! My boys love African books, the pictures seem to come alive!

  7. I love how the owl turned out! Cool idea.

    I remember scraping away crayon too, I wonder why it didn't work? Maybe they make the crayons differently now. Recently I tried to iron wax paper, like how we used to when I was a kid, and it didn't work! It wasn't waxy enough to melt.

  8. I agree with you, those turned out really good! Our crayon resists didn't turn out so well.

  9. These turned out great--wish I lived close enough to give you a break! :) I let Juliet paint when she was 21 months old too.

  10. Both projects look great to me. I think it is great that you gave her a paint brush at 21 months. I started Emily around then too, I couldn't wait to let her explore art materials.

    I remember the scrape pictures too. I think you have to color really hard with bright colors and then go over it with a black crayon. The mixed media collage looks great though :0)

    Thank you for linking up to stART and sharing your projects with us!!

  11. I do a weekly feature on my blog called Kid Krafts. I saw this post and we tried it out this week.


    Thanks for the inspiration.


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