16 July, 2014

Schneider Family Book Award 10th Anniversary Blog Tour & Giveaway

The Schneider Family Book Awards honor an author or illustrator for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences. We are happy to celebrate the 10th anniversary of this award with some great blog posts and a giveaway!

For our post, we're featuring an activity for this year's winning picture book, A Splash of Red.

For more information about the Schneider Family Book Award: webpage | list of winners

Check out all of the links of the Schneider Family Book Award 10th Anniversary Blog Tour & Giveaway:

July 6, 2014 Nerdy Book Club

July 6, 2014 Kid Lit Frenzy

July 7, 2014 Nonfiction Detectives

July 9, 2014 Teach Mentor Texts

July 10, 2014 There’s a Book For That

July 11, 2014 Kathie Comments

July 12, 2014 Disability in Kidlit

July 14, 2014 Librarian in Cute Shoes

July 15, 2014 The Late Bloomer’s Book Blog

July 16, 2014 Read, Write, and Reflect

July 17, 2014 Read Now Sleep Later

July 18, 2014 Unleashing Readers

July 19, 2014 Great Kid Books

July 20, 2014 Maria’s Mélange

A Splash of Red: The Life & Art of Horace Pippin
Written by Jen Bryant
Illustrated by Melissa Sweet

About the book

As a child in the late 1800s, Horace Pippin loved to draw: He loved the feel of the charcoal as it slid across the floor. He loved looking at something in the room and making it come alive again in front of him. He drew pictures for his sisters, his classmates, his co-workers. Even during W.W.I, Horace filled his notebooks with drawings from the trenches . . . until he was shot. 

Upon his return home, Horace couldn't lift his right arm, and couldn't make any art. Slowly, with lots of practice, he regained use of his arm, until once again, he was able to paint--and paint, and paint! Soon, people—including the famous painter N. C. Wyeth—started noticing Horace's art, and before long, his paintings were displayed in galleries & museums across the country.

About the activity

I love to paint, and I love Horace Pippin's art. People will give you all kinds of excuses for how they are "bad" at art. Not Horace Pippin. If you read the book, you'll learn that not only did he make beautiful artwork despite injury to his dominant arm, he also made art without being able to afford fancy materials and supplies. I based this activity on both of those things. 

  • Some paint and a palette (or other mark-making media)
  • A brush or brushes
  • A container of water
  • Paper or cardboard (or other surface that will accept your media)
  • A subject -- something you want to paint

For my project, I just picked supplies that I already have at home. I do actually have real watercolors and watercolor paper, but you can use any paints and painting surfaces you want. You don't even have to use paint, if you have pencils, pens, crayons, or other mark-making media. You also don't need special equipment--Horace Pippin didn't! As you can see, my palette was a paper plate. My container used to hold spaghetti sauce, but it's now filled with clean water. My brush is no big deal -- it's a well-worn watercolor brush*. You can use your fingers, or paper towels, or bits of sponges. Just make sure to clean up after yourself!

*If you are using a brush, make sure you take it out of the water right after you rinse it. Soaking it and leaving it standing in a jar of water will only damage the bristles! Rest your brush on the palette/paper plate/paper towel so the bristles don't get bent or pulled out.

Choose a subject:

For my subject, I picked some leaves and flowers from the garden. Make sure it's ok with your parent or whoever owns the subject matter you are taking! I also had this little wooden frog, though I ended up not adding it to the final composition. Oh, and my cats are in all of these photos, because they added an extra layer of difficulty to the project. I haven't painted them (yet). You might have some fruit, or a pair of shoes, or something else that interests you. Horace Pippin painted everyday things and sometimes things he imagined, too. So if you can't find any physical objects you want to paint, that's ok! Just dream something up.

Choose sides:

This is how I would normally set everything up, because I am left-handed. But for the purposes of this exercise, we are going to paint with our off-hands. Yes! Horace used his good hand to support his other hand, but especially if you have two good arms, it's actually quite difficult to stop your dominant hand from functioning normally. In this exercise, you switch hands, and you can use your dominant hand to stabilize your off-hand.


Here I am, trying to draw the stem and leaves of this jasmine sprig with my right hand. There is also a zinnia blossom, and of course, my assistant, John Carter. As you can see, I didn't have a lot of control over the shapes I was making, but I made them anyway. Watercolor is pretty forgiving like that. I was very tempted to switch to my dominant hand, but I managed to remember not to hand over the brush whenever I reached for it with my left hand.

Here is my finished practice painting. As you can see, using my right hand I couldn't really control my movements. That frog, for example, looks nothing like the real thing! It looks more like a rock. The point of the practice is to experiment. I tried different ways of holding and moving the brush, different ways of mixing the paint, all without using my dominant hand. The other point of this practice is to help you let go of your expectations that your artwork will be perfect.


For this exercise, you want to

  • use your non-dominant hand
  • express yourself
  • have fun

Don't worry about making your painting perfect or for how much you will sell your masterpiece--Horace Pippin's first paintings were priced at $5 and no one really wanted to buy them.

Go for it!

Here, I tried to make the zinnia petals by bouncing the rush rapidly off the paper.

It's ok if your paint spatters.

It's also ok if your cat tries to grab your paintbrush and makes you paint a big swoosh where you were trying to just paint a leaf or stem.

I tried to give my off-hand more control by stabilizing it with my other hand. It didn't really help.

Here is my finished painting. I showed a lot more than what I actually had in front of me. And there were quite a few abstract shapes as a result of the cats "helping" me paint.

Switch back:

I also tried painting with my dominant hand afterwards. What do you think? I like the off-hand one better, don't you?

I hope this off-hand painting exercise will give you more ideas about what disability means, and what it doesn't mean. What if you could only paint with your foot, or with the paintbrush in your mouth? Could you still express yourself creatively? Can you create something meaningful or beautiful? What other means could you use instead of painting?

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To celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Schneider Family Book Award, we are providing readers with an opportunity to win a set of all three 2014 Schneider Family Book Award Winners. Participants must be 13 years or older and have a US or Canadian mailing address.

Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter the giveaway. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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