Barbara Reid visits John T. Tuck Students

Students at John T. Tuck Public School in Burlington enjoyed a special author visit by Barbara Reid on March 2, 2017. The talented students from Mrs. Hill’s JK-SK class won an author visit as the top prize in the 2016 Telling Tales Explore Your World School Contest.

Together the winning class created a beautiful plasticine picture inspired by Barbara Reid’s book Picture a Tree. As their prize, the school received this exclusive author experience! Find out more about the school’s winning entry.

Barbara with certificate

Barbara Reid proudly posing with the school’s Telling Tales Explore Your World School Contest winning certificate!

Stories through pictures

Students learned how Barbara Reid creates her beautiful artwork and were inspired to tell their own stories. She took the students through her creative process and how she makes her distinctive plasticine creations.

In order to make her pictures come to life and look realistic, Barbara looks at real objects for inspiration. If she wants to create a picture of a cow, she looks at pictures on the computer, takes books out from the library, or buys small plastic toys, so she can look at the animal’s shape from different angles.

She uses her imagination too – this gives her pictures personality! When she created the cow for the cow jumps over the moon page in Sing a Song of Mother Goose, Barbara put a tutu on the cow and tuxes on the dogs!

Barbara Reid shows students how she makes her plasticine creations.

Barbara Reid shows students how she makes her plasticine creations.

She plans her pictures in pencil first. Then with these three steps, she encouraged students that they can make anything in plasticine:

  1. Spread clay – push the clay so it’s smooth and flat
  2. Make a shape – you can make balls for circles, or roll it into long, thin pieces, that when combined turn into objects
  3. Add texture – Barbara adds texture to make a picture look real. For example, she uses a tool like a comb to make things look furry

For complicated objects like animals, Barbara does them bit by bit and builds on them. Layer by layer, shapes and colours turn into detailed collages. Here’s a video that shows how she created some of the scenes in Picture a Tree. When you see all of the detailed, vibrant images in her books, this is how they are made:

Students at John T. Tuck had an opportunity to find out more from Barbara by asking her some great questions.

Is it hard to make all of the stories?

It’s a hard job, but Barbara Reid loves to make stories and pictures.

How long does it take to make a book?

From idea to finished book, it can take a couple of years. It takes approximately eight months to one year for Barbara to make a picture book.

Each individual picture in her book can take between a day and a week to make, depending on the scene. The Hey Diddle, Diddle cow jumping over the moon picture in Sing a Song of Mother Goose took about one day to make. But in Picture a Tree, one tree could take eight days because of all the little leaves and details.

How do you make your pictures look so real?

Lots of practice! She assured the students, if they keep trying, they will get better at it too.

How do your plasticine creations get into a book?

After she creates the artwork for each individual page, her husband takes a picture of the artwork. Then that picture goes into a computer and is put into a book which is printed.

What is your favourite book?

Barbara Reid loves books! She really enjoys reading the Narnia and Madeline books. When it comes to selecting one of her own books, Barbara is working on a new book and is having fun making the artwork for it. Her new book is like Picture a Tree, but it’s called Picture the Sky.

Barbara sign

A warm welcome from John T. Tuck students!

Guests visiting the school could watch the winning video and admire beautiful plasticine creations.

Guests visiting the school could watch the winning video and admire beautiful plasticine creations.