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Review of ‘Playing With Collage’

Home » Review of ‘Playing With Collage’

I was 10 or 11 the first time I ever read Jeannie Baker’s iconic book, ‘Where the Forest Meets the Sea’ and to this day I can spend hours pouring over the details in this book and all her others and marvelling at her technique. I remember referencing Jeannie Baker’s work over and over again in university assignments as a early childhood student at QUT and my mother and I have attended pretty much every exhibition of her work on Brisbane, both at the Botanic Gardens and at Story Arts Festival Ipswich. It would be fair to say that meeting Jeannie Baker for the first time was a somewhat a religious experience, and the fact that she was utterly ethereal made the entire experience completely magic; the photo of mum and I at this event sat framed on my bookcase for many years afterwards. I have since met Baker a number of times and have decided that she is perhaps only part woman, the rest of her is possibly native Australian bush sprite (despite being born in England!). I once watched her silently slink from the audience to the back of a crowded conference room and start doing yoga and quite frankly her yoga was far more fascinating than the speaker who I absolutely do not remember. I’ve also never spoken to her. Normally you cannot stop me gushing over an adored author/illustrator, but I entirely lose the power to speak around her. Enough about me.

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Her latest book is ‘Playing With Collage’ and it is like a personal gift from Jeannie Baker herself to every child, educator and parent who has ever loved her work and hoped to play with and arrange natural and man-made materials as she does. Baker shares her tips for assembling all sorts of different textures and materials, whether it’s dried flowers or tiny shells, spices from the kitchen, spaghetti or postage stamps and takes readers behind the scenes in with this informative non-fiction text. Clear photographs, lots of white space (not her usual style!) and clear captions make this a really useful teaching tool and ‘how-to’ guide for young readers and their parents and educators; a must have for every early childhood classroom! I especially like that she offers ideas for starting a collage, as well as example collages of her own which are larger and less complex than what you might see in her illustrated picture books, but then encourages young artists to be playful, observant, creative and use their own imagination to create unique collages inspired by found or collected materials.

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