A Mazza Journey

Michelle Houts is blogging this week from The Mazza Museum’s Summer Conference. The Mazza Museum is located in Findlay, Ohio and houses one of the largest collections of original art from children’s literature. The museum also hosts authors and illustrators throughout the year. Stick around to see who shows up this week. You won’t be disappointed!

Aaron Becker breathes story.

His website is www.storybreathing.com.

And he’s here at Mazza to share with us his Journey along the way to becoming a Caldecott Honor winner.

The journey toward Journey started with a place. A castle. And an idea that a girl would visit this castle and many other places along the way.

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Aaron Becker had never used watercolor before, but he felt for a number of reasons that it was right for this particular picture book trilogy. (Yes – trilogy! Quest  followed Journey and Return will be available next summer.) Initial attempts at watercolor didn’t come close to what he was looking for, but he practiced for months until he came to a profound realization:  He needed to “set up the optimal conditions for a wild medium to do its thing.”

And then, he realized, this theory applies not only to the process of painting with watercolor. It applies to life. It applies to children’s literature. It applies to education.  Children are like the many wonderful color pigments; teachers and librarians are the artists who take their unruly subjects and give them just the structure and materials they need to let them do their thing – to learn and grow and make sense of the world around them.

Aaron believes that picking up a wordless book is like receiving a new toy with no instructions – the reader must bring it to life with their own understanding to make it make sense. What fantastic wordless adventures he’s given the children in our lives! We’re so blessed to have Aaron at Mazza and Aaron’s books in our homes, schools, and libraries.

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Aaron’s line snakes around the Gardner Fine Arts Pavilion at The Mazza Museum.


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I haven’t used any pictures of myself this week, but I’m so proud to pose with this fellow Candlewickian!






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