Look!: Body Languages in Art

"Look! Body Language in Art" by Gillian Wolfe

“Look! Body Language in Art” by Gillian Wolfe

Text: Wolfe, G. (2006). Look!: body language in art. London, England: Frances Lincoln Limited.

Text type: Informational Children’s Book

Synopsis: This book focuses on 18 different artworks from artists such as Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, and Andy Warhol, examining how artists use body language to communicate within their artworks. The author focuses on examining how faces, hands, and bodies, overall, deliver messages and tell stories to show how a person or character is feeling or what they may be thinking. This text illustrates how classical art can relate to contemporary times by recognizing universal ways to communicate nonverbally.

Analysis: This book will challenge its readers to evaluate how communication can be delivered through art and through body language by asking thought-provoking questions such as “What do you think will happen next?” and “How would their lives have been different?” Activities are offered to encourage readers to further their exploration of body language in art. For even further research, biographical information is given about each artist within the book as well as where to find the original paintings shown in the text. This book will allow students to improve their literacy and thinking skills while allowing them to explore a new perspective in communicating within art.

Leonardo Da Vinci: The Renaissance Man

“Leonardo Da Vinci: The Renaissance Man” by Dan Danko

Text: Danko, D. (2012). Leonardo Da Vinci: The Renaissance man. New Delhi, India: Campfire Graphic Novels.

Text type: Graphic Novel

Synopsis: This graphic novel illustrates the life of Leonardo Da Vinci, a Renaissance man who was most famous for his paintings as he experimented with media, his inventions as he tried to revolutionize technology, and his writings as he documented his thoughts throughout his life within many journals and sketchbooks. Focusing on the mystery of the stolen masterpiece, The Mona Lisa, this novel illustrates da Vinci’s life and his impact on the art world today. The reader is given the chance to view da Vinci’s complicated life without missing any details while also following the recovery of the missing painting.

Analysis: This graphic novel is an excellent resource to use in the art classroom, but may be better suited for high school students as it contains dense text and rigorous vocabulary. The storyline of da Vinci’s life is complex and detailed and does not contain any inappropriate or profane material. This text will help introduce or reinforce vocabulary while improving students’ literacy skills as they follow the complex story. It will help demonstrate how Leonardo da Vinci influenced many different subject areas including science, art, aviation, and design by illustrating his inventions, artworks, sketches, and ideas. He also influenced the way that humans view the human body through his incredibly detailed studies of muscles, bones, and skin. This text will allow students to understand more about one of the most influential artists of all time while enjoying a graphic novel that will also help them within their studies of art and design.

Letters to a Young Poet

"Letters to a Young Poet" by Rainer Maria Rilke

“Letters to a Young Poet” by Rainer Maria Rilke, Translation by M. D. Herter Norton

“Then draw to Nature. Then try, like some first human being, to say what you see and experience and love and lose.” Letter One, 16

Born in 1875, the great German lyric poet Rainer Maria Rilke published his first collection of poems in 1898 and went on to become renowned for his delicate depiction of the workings of the human heart. Drawn by some sympathetic note in his poems, young people often wrote to Rilke with their problems and hopes. From 1903 to 1908 Rilke wrote a series of remarkable responses to a young, would-be poet on poetry and on surviving as a sensitive observer in a harsh world. Those letters, still a fresh source of inspiration and insight, are accompanied here by a chronicle of Rilke’s life that shows what he was experiencing in his own relationship to life and work when he wrote them.

“For the creator must be a world for himself and find everything in himself and in Nature to whom he has attached himself.” Letter One, 17

“After all this it is not hard to understand how I determined in that very hour to send my poetic attempts to Rainer Maria Rilke and to ask him for his opinion. Not yet twenty and close on the threshold of a profession which I felt to be entirely contrary to my inclinations, I hoped to find understanding, if in any one, in the poet who had written Mir zur Feier. And without having intended to do so at all, I found myself writing a covering letter in which I unreservedly laid bare my heart as never before and never since to any second human being.” -Franz Xaver Kappus, Berlin, June 1929, Introduction, 12

“If you will cling to Nature, to the simple in Nature, to the little things that hardly anyone sees, and that can so unexpectedly become big and beyond measuring; if you have this love of inconsiderable things and seek quite simply, as one who serves, to win the confidence of what seems poor: then everything will become easier, more coherent and somehow more conciliatory for you…” Letter Four, 27

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Apocalyptic Planet

"Apocalyptic Planet: Field Guide to the Everending Earth" by Craig Childs

“Apocalyptic Planet: Field Guide to the Everending Earth” by Craig Childs

“The sixth mass extinction is well under way. Numbers of lost and declining species are rapidly rising with no end in sight. Some researchers offer outside estimates that as many as half of all remaining species may disappear within the next century.” xvi

The earth has died many times, and it always comes back looking different. In an exhilarating, surprising exploration of our planet, Craig Childs takes readers on a firsthand journey through apocalypse, touching the truth behind the speculation. Apocalyptic Planet is a combination of science and adventure that reveals the ways in which our world is constantly moving toward its end and how we can change our place within the cycles and episodes that rule it.

In this riveting narrative, categorized in the nature category, Childs makes clear that ours is not a stable planet, that it is prone to sudden, violent natural disasters and extremes of climate. Alternate futures, many not so pretty, are constantly waiting in the wings. Childs refutes the idea of an apocalyptic end to the earth and finds clues to its more inevitable end in some of the most physically challenging places on the globe. He travels from the deserts of Chile, the driest in the world, to the genetic wasteland of central Iowa to the site of the drowned land bridge of the Bering Sea, uncovering the micro-cataclysms that predict the macro: forthcoming ice ages, super-volcanoes, and the conclusion of planetary life cycles. Childs delivers a sensual feast in his descriptions of the natural world and a bounty of unequivocal science that provides us with an unprecedented understanding of our future.

“The word ‘apocalypse’ from the Greek apokalypsis, originally referred to the lifting of a veil or a revelation. The common definition as a destructive worldwide event is more recent. In this book, it is both.”

“A friend had been traveling in Nigeria, and he came back telling me that one year you’re taking pictures of laughing children and the next you go back and most of those children have died.” 10

Craig Childs is a commentator for NPR’s Morning Edition, and his work has appeared in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Men’s Journal, Outside, The Sun, and Orion. Awards he has won include the Ellen Meloy Desert Writers Award, the Rowell Award for the Art of Adventure, the Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Award, and, for his body of work, the 2003 Spirit of the West Award.

“I asked how they found his body, faceup or facedown. Faceup, they said, which was somehow a relief to me. He had not fallen over helpless. He had stopped to rest, chosen the place with what was left of his mind.” 11

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Food and the City

"Food and the City: Urban Agriculture and the New Food Revolution" by Jennifer Cockrall-King

“Food and the City: Urban Agriculture and the New Food Revolution” by Jennifer Cockrall-King

A global movement to take back our food is growing. The future of farming is in our hands-and in our cities.

“Every minute in the United States, over an acre of agricultural land is lost to commercial and residential development.” 144

“The idea to write a book about urban agriculture-the practice of producing and distributing food right in cities-felt like it came looking for me as much as I went looking for it.

As a food writer with a serious passion for gardening, I had long been in the habit of stopping to talk with anyone watering a few pots of rosemary and basil, for instance, on the patio. (Several minutes later, we’d still be trading stories about what interesting edibles could be grown with the right amount of obsessive coddling.) But about five yeras ago, I started noticing more tomatoes and cucumber vines twisting around condo balcony railings where previously there had only been the usual flowerpot standards of geraniums and lobelia. Then a few maverick homeowners began ripping up their front lawns and replacing them with tidy rows of pole beans, peas, and carrots. Other urbanites were not so subtly defying city bylaws and keeping chickens and beehives in backyards. Finally, it was impossible to ignore how community gardens continued to mushroom in size and quantity, not just in my hometown, but in other cities I visited.” -Introduction, 9

“We weren’t gardening. We were growing food!” 151

Jennifer Cockrall-King is an award-winning food journalist whose work has appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times, the National Post, Canadian Geographic, Maclean’s, and other major publications. She lives in Edmonton, Alberta, and in the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, where she founded and runs the Okanagan Food and Wine Writers Workshop.

Visit Jennifer online at and, and on Twitter @jennifer_ck.

“We wanted to highlight the fact that we weren’t doing this for fun. We’d rather not be doing this. The question of food is not a theoretical construct. It’s a matter of life and death.” 151

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