Monday, April 16, 2012

Whales on Stilts woodblock extravaganza

As I have mentioned many times, my middle grade book club and I recently read MT Anderson's Whales on Stilts.

If you haven't checked this out yet, I highly recommend it. His YA book Feed has been on my favorite list for a while. Whales on Stilts is quirky and funny, and I found myself laughing throughout the book.

It's like when you watch some cartoons with kids: there was definitely humor and wit to delight an adult reader.

I also loved the excellent woodcuts found throughout. They were clever and stunning. So, being a printmaker, I brought in my supplies to make woodblocks with the kids based on the book.

Fortunately, I had a warning from the art teacher about her own attempts at having the kids make woodcuts (she sent five kids to the nurse in as many minutes). So, instead of giving them tiny knife-like woodworking tools, I had the kids draw their images, and then I cut away the wood, and they inked and printed them.

Then, they got to take a copy of their woodcut print and the actual block home to keep.

Good times, and the results were just lovely, if I do say so myself.

You can see lots of images of whales on stilts, and one completely unrelated "super cat" thrown in there that does NOT relate to the story at all (my 4 year old comes along to book club because I don't have a sitter).

Have you read Whales on Stilts?

What book's illustrations make you happy?


  1. What a wonderful idea!! I have a lot of friends with kids at the right age for that. I'll be sure to let them know what you did. Thanks!

  2. Those were awesome! I must look at that book!

    With my young students, we made blocks with potatoes and with soap (with wood skewers for carving).

  3. Those look really great! I especially love "super cat" knowing the details behind it :)

  4. Such a cute idea! And Super Cat? BRILLIANT. ;)

  5. Cool Connie!

    Susan, that's great! It sounds easy and fun.

    Jaime, thanks. I know, I'm pretty fond of supercat. We couldn't talk him into anything else.

    Thanks, Soph. What could be more fun?

    Aww, thanks Jess. It was fun, and it made our usually passive club a little more active.

  6. I'm the author of this book, and I love these woodcuts! Very ominous whales! And I love the background shading techniques used in several of them.

    Please tell the kids how much I enjoyed their artwork!

    Even Supercat.



  7. MT!!! Thanks so much for commenting! I will definitely let the kids know what you think about their woodcuts. They loved your book!


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