PickyKidPix and I love Liar and Spy by Rebecca Stead. She said it was a read aloud this past year for 6th grade English.
Since she was read to at school, I have a treat for you, my dear readers. I have Rebecca Stead reading from Liar and Spy! (If you haven’t read her excellent chapter book, this clip will set up the story).
Without spoiling the ending, I wanted to do an art project for kids that connects Georges Seurat with Liar and Spy. We didn’t use this (yet) for her 6th Grade Book Club, but it would work as an activity for a book club for kids.
I thought Georges Seurat was an interesting metaphor for the plot in Liar and Spy. The main character in the book, Georges, is a 7th grader who’s just moved to a Brooklyn apartment after his parents lost their house. Understandably, he’s not too happy about being the new kid at middle school.
He’s also not too happy about having an extra “s” in his name; the same spelling of his parents’ favorite artist, Georges Seurat. And there’s this whole idea of blurry lines: are you seeing the picture or the dots? Is what you see really what you think it is?
To fully appreciate the Georges Seurat connection, let’s take a moment to check him out.
Georges Seurat (December 2, 1859 – March 29, 1891) was a French painter and draftsman. His large work Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, his most famous painting, altered the direction of modern art by initiating Neo-impressionism, and is one of the icons of 19th century painting. From Georges Seurat
Seurat’s famous painting, La Grande Jatte, also figures into Liar and Spy, and honestly, it is the only painting that I think of when I think of pointillism.
Here are a few more paintings by Seurat just to branch out.
You can see why he is considered to be the father of impressionism!
These two paintings are from our trip to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. The impressionist area is our favorite room. We can sit there for an entire 10 minutes even! (Yes, my kids have a short attention span!).
Georges Seurat influenced a whole movement of artists but he didn’t do it alone. Here’s his friend Paul Signac who is lesser known.
Paul Victor Jules Signac was a French neo-impressionist painter who, working with Georges Seurat, helped develop the pointillist style.
Antibes, The Pink Cloud, 1916 (Oil on canvas)
And this painting by Claude Monet (sorry, I failed to capture the title), also has the same pointillism feel, don’t you think?
Seurat Pointillism Art Project Using Liar and Spy
Since Liar and Spy is about phobias so I thought the art project should be …
ta da …
- Draw or paint your fear using pointillism dots.
- The viewer of your artwork can then try to guess what it is.
We used oil pastels and chalk pastels on paper but you can use any kind of paint, markers, dot dot paint or even dot stickers.
I recruited some middle school kids to help me with out with this. I have to admit that my middle school daughters are not easily convinced to create art for my blog so it’s entirely possible that money exchanged hands.
What did you guess for PickyKidPix’s creation? Hint: she does not like any kind of natural disaster!
Grasshopper and Sensei had a particular person in mind that she did not necessarily enjoy learning from. I’m not naming names.
A playdate was recruited for her artistic abilities. Her’s is a Biblical reference.
There are certain creatures that get into our house in the spring that my kids do not enjoy encountering. I am the only person who will rescue these critters that are good for gardens and, under no circumstances, should be squashed!
Can you figure out what each artist is scared of?
Books for Georges Searat Art Project for Middle School Kids
Liar and Spy by Rebecca Stead
In Stead’s chapter book, the dots are the stories of kids living in the same apartment building. There’s 7th grader Georges who has just moved in and attending a new school. Safer is the first friend he makes, a twelve-year-old self-appointed spy who recruits Georges into investigating a mysterious neighbor.
Who is the Liar and who is the Spy? And when you stand back from the dots, what exactly do you see? Stead’s critics (perhaps only one annoying one) said that the story was subtle, perhaps too subtle. But is neo-impressionism too subtle? Not for the viewer who knows to look closely and then slowly back up and absorb the entire image.
Point by point. Dot by dot. Story by story. Liar and Spy does not disappoint. [chapter book, ages 9 and up]
Georges Seurat (Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists) by Mike Venezia
This non fiction book details the life of Georges Seurat and introduces kids to his art. [non fiction series, ages 6 and up]
To examine any book more closely at Amazon, please click on image of book.
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BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.
16 thoughts on “Seurat Art Project Using Chapter Book Liar and Spy”
I like this story and enjoyed hearing the author talk and read a portion of the book. I especially enjoyed your activities to help kids learn more about neo-impressionism and Georges Seurat’s beautiful work. I see a tornado, a spider, and the Neanderthal man. Not sure about the Biblical unless it’s the partin of the seas. Great post.
Thanks so much Patricia! I loved Rebecca Stead’s connection to art and Seurat is one of my daughter’s favorite artists. Thanks for guessing their phobias!!
Very cool! I love your book club ideas! I used to have that Seurat painting as my desktop image and I could stare at it for ages. My guesses… Tornado, teacher, when the water turned to blood, spider. I like how the technique is a little different in each.
Thanks so much Ann! Seurat would be a very soothing image to look at every day! Thanks for guessing too!
I definitely want to get to the museum this summer. I\’ve never heard of Seurat. This will be a great addition to our summer reading list! Thanks for sharing with Creative Style.
Thanks so much April! Seurat was much less well known than the Impressionists but I think of him as their father figure!
I’ve always found pointillism fascinating. Such a detailed art form!
It is a small miracle that the little dots add up to something bigger! I always liked looking at the paintings up close as possible and then far away.
This is a really cool project! I think I recognize a hurricane in one of the pictures. I am looking forward to higher grades and more involved projects! Thanks for sharing with After School Link Up!
Thank you so much Natalie!! Your guess is very close!
Great post. This is my favorite artist. Looking forward to reading the book!
I’m so glad you want to read the book! It’s great! And the tie in with Seurat is genius! Let me know how you like it if you have a chance!
Seurat is awesome. I will definitely have to check out Liar and Spy. What a great extension! Thanks for sharing at the After School Linky!
Thanks so much Deceptively Educational! I love Rebecca Stead’s books. I hope you get a chance to read Liar and Spy!!
Great post! My 5yr old son was telling me they have been doing pointillism at school! I was amazed! And of course delighted. I will take him to London, to our awe-inspiring National Gallery on Trafalgar Square, and straight to Seurat’s Bathers at Asnières, a painting that has fascinated me ever since I was 13, on my first ever visit to the gallery. Thank you for your awesome blog!
Thanks so much Sophia! How amazing your son’s teacher is to be teaching pointillism!! I’m sure he will love the National Gallery!! When he gets older, this might be a great book to read together … maybe at age 8 or 9?