________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 4 . . . . October 13, 2006


The Jumbo Book of Outdoor Art.

Irene Luxbacher.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2006.
144 pp., pbk., $18.95.
ISBN 1-55337-680-3.

Subject Headings:
Art-Technique-Juvenile literature.
Nature in art-Juvenile literature.
Nature (Aesthetics)-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3 and up / Ages 8 and up.

Review by Jo-Anne Mary Benson.

***½ /4


Artistic Outdoor Obsevatory

Create your own wild kingdom in your room, on your balcony or in your yard.  It’s a great way to go to make sure you never run out of outdoor art ideas.

Really Rotten Flipbook

There’s still a lot of life in an old apple core, banana peel or wilting flower.  Here’s how to turn an organic object you’re ready to get rid of into a delightful “de-composition.”

Wings of a Butterfly

Turn a symmetrical printing project into a pair of wings that catches the wind and sends your spirits soaring. 


Irene Luxbacher, a teacher at Toronto’s Avenue Road Arts School “wowed” readers with her previous title, The Jumbo Book of Art, and continues to do so with this new release.   Continuing with the intriguing approach that art is an adventure, The Jumbo Book of Outdoor Art motivates children to get outside and discover new avenues to enhance their personal artistic expression. By exploring the outdoors with a discerning eye, Luxbacher encourages readers to be on the lookout for the wealth of natural materials so readily at their disposal. During their explorations, Luxbacher encourages children to experiment, play safely, and to have a respect for the environment.

     In Luxbacher’s philosophy, there are no “wrongs” in the artistic process. Children are encouraged to find their own way and to express themselves as they so choose. Through this approach, children can recognize that they are the ones in control of their own art endeavours. This will increase their desire to explore and draw upon their own creativity. The author maintains that the most important thing to do is to have fun!   

     The presentation is straightforward and makes this book well suited for the recommended age group of 8+. Children can choose from the 57 projects offered which are organized into four different themes. Each is visually appealing and has excellent drawings to illustrate the concepts, including photographic examples of the completed projects. Touching on the topic of earth and the ground beneath us, the book encourages kids to make a layered landscape in a mason jar. The concepts of greenery and growth are explored through topiary and pressed flowers. Inspiration can be found from the elements of nature via children’s creating a weather vane or ice chandelier. The book concludes with a segment that utilizes materials to be recycled or composted, such as eggshells for Hilarious Hatchlings or paper pulp to make mushy monster sculptures. 

     In addition, Luxbacher approaches some projects with simple scientific concepts. A variety of sculpting experiments make use of sand and local deadwood. Sketchbook studies analyze such things as soil smudges or tree bark patterns. Colour labs encourage non-traditional techniques that include painting with bubbles and creating marbled patterns with vegetable oil and acrylic paints.

     Irene Luxbacher understands what excites children. This title, as with her previous release, Jumbo Book of Art, will provide hours of fun and entertainment. All the projects presented can be enjoyed as they vary in complexity. However, as children get older, the projects can lend themselves well to greater embellishment. This book is suitable for individual or group endeavours and thus makes it an ideal choice for home, classroom, or club activities, and it comes highly recommended.

Highly Recommended.

Jo-Anne Mary Benson of Osgoode, ON, is a writer/reviewer for North American magazines, newspapers, and journals.


To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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ISSN 1201-9364
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