This is one of my all-time favorite “art-story booksto read to my students! Beginning as early as 2nd or 3rd grade for some students, perfectionism can set in and give them the mistaken idea that their art needs to look like a photograph in order to be “good”. Of course, these students are the minority, but it’s so sad when you see this tendency developing in any child, robbing them of the joy of creativity and the artistic process. The sooner we can convince them otherwise, the less frustrating their art experiences will be. The message of Ish, by Peter Reynolds, is that art is not about perfectionism and imitating life exactly, but rather the enjoyment one has in creating art and the way their art connects with others.

Ish is about a boy named Ramon who loves to draw, until his older brother laughs at one of his drawings and says that it doesn’t look like a “real” vase of flowers. Ramon is so discouraged that he stops drawing…. until he discovers that his sister has saved all of his crumpled drawings and hung them on her bedroom wall. She tells him that his vase looks “vase-ish”, which gives him a whole new way of looking at his drawings and starts him on a new adventure of making drawings that look “ish”…. “tree-ish”, “house-ish”, boat-ish”, etc. Ish is filled with charming, quirky drawings that will inspire even your most reluctant artists to make “-ish” drawings of their own!

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7 Responses to “Ish”

  1. Ms. Julie's Place March 16, 2009 at 8:38 am #

    Thank you so much for this! It seems like all those rare perfectionists all come to my classes!!!

  2. Sue March 16, 2009 at 2:54 pm #

    What a great story. I wonder if we can hold hold of this book in Australia. I will look out for it.
    I teach junior children in in a Special School. I will come back and visit you often. I have linked your site to our virtual gallery. I hope that it is okay?

  3. Ms. Julie's Place March 17, 2009 at 1:43 pm #

    As per your oil pastel clean up comment- isn’t it kind of scary how many things baby wipes can clean?
    Thanks for the tip by the way!

  4. Kristen March 21, 2009 at 8:59 am #

    I love this book! I just got it for my 20th birthday! =]

  5. Katie Gonzalez March 26, 2009 at 7:57 am #

    This is my favorite book! I even named my class Betta fish (our mascot) “Ish.” I read it to all my students K-5 at the beginning of every year. They love it, too. It has such a great message, and really sets a tone for the year. We talk about how it’s important to have an “ish attitude” like Ramon, and we also talk about trying to act like Marisol, not Leon, when talking to one another about art.
    After reading the book, we do drawings for our job cards. I save all the drawings that they throw away (the “mess-ups”)and surprise them with an “Ish Gallery” the next week. The students are always surprised at what someone else would throw away!

  6. Karen E April 7, 2009 at 2:10 pm #

    I love “ish”, but I also love “The Dot” by the same author. My first graders do a dot project every year.

  7. TeachKidsArt April 8, 2009 at 5:30 pm #

    I love “The Dot”, too…. another wonderful book!! It’s fun to see how creative kids can be with just a simple (or not so simple!) dot!!! :)