Read It. Move It. Share It.
This is the first post in my collaboration with independent dance educator Maria Hanley from Maria's Movers. Each month I'll recommend a picture book for Maria to use in her creative movement classes. I'll read the book, Maria will "move" it with her students, and we'll both share our experiences.
At its core, Lisa Brown's debut picture book How to Be is a book about being yourself. Maybe you act like a dog, or a snake, or a monkey sometimes (not unlike the characters in this book). But as long as you are still being true to yourself, the world will be full of color and creativity...at least that's the way I like to interpret this charming book.
How to Be is broken down into four-page sections, each devoted to a specific animal. Short descriptive sentences and simple illustrations depict "how to be" each of the various creatures. Here, for instance, is an excerpt about being a snake:
Shed your skin.
Dance in a basket.
I'm about to contradict myself, because I know I just told you that this book is about being yourself. But, through the illustrations, How to Be is also about being with others. The main characters are a young brother and sister who, for the most part, get along splendidly. Yes, there is the moment when the brother is acting like a dog, and he "licks someone." (His sister looks a little annoyed.) And there's the time when the sister "builds a web" like a spider, but actually ties her brother up in it. But this kind of behavior is to be expected between siblings, right?
Another fun aspect of this book, especially in the context of creative movement, is that each four-page section has an opening page that introduces the animal, along with a featured color and featured item (or "prop") that both appear multiple times in the section:
Bear--a blue swimming toy
Monkey--a green book
Turtle--a pink and yellow pail
Snake--an orange basket
Spider--purple paint on a sketch pad
Dog--a brown pull toy
And, finally, the book ends with "how to be" a person, incorporating many of the best attributes of the other animals. The illustrations in this last section also incorporate all the colors in the book, emphasizing that people are diverse, interesting, and unique.
I hope this book inspired Maria as much as it inspired me. Let's see how she incorporated it in her creative movement classes here!