Here Comes Ingo by Odeta Xheka
I look forward to any opportunity to discuss Here Comes Ingo, winner of the prestigiuos Mom's Choice Award, in front of an audience eager to engage with a wonderful visual story that exemplifies a progression of thinking leading towards love, kindness and inclusion. Page after page of hand-crafted collages filled with fun details and wrapped in Disney-like colors encourage children to put their thinking hats on and figure out what the characters on each page are thinking, feeling and doing thus gaining valuable skills such as communication, visual observation, predicting, inferring as well as critical thinking and confidence. Most importantly, Here Comes Ingo allows for fun and educational interaction that brings art to children in a relatable way i.e. emancipatory pedagogy. Not only does it familiarize them to fairly sophisticated art concepts such as fine art collage and photomontage but it goes a step further in inviting pre-schoolers (3-5) and school age children (5-8) to immerse themselves into Ingo’s dream world by adding their own ideas and expanding the story via drawing, coloring and painting directly ON the page.
10 Reasons Here Comes Ingo and I Would Be Great For Your School or Library.
Here Comes Ingo is my first picture book but my interest in Art for Children is long lasting. I'm a strong beleiver in teaching the arts in order to increase self-confidence and self-understanding which in turn help enhance communication skills and critical thinking. Although my primary body of work is comprised of Abstract Art (mixed media, oil on canvas & prints) and multi-layered (figurative, abstract & biomorphic) Collage, in the past few years, having become first the mother of a wonderful boy and just a little later the mother of a wonderful girl, I have thought long and hard about best ways to surround children with art that speaks to them in a direct and meaningful way. Here Comes Ingo, winner of the presitigious Mom's Choice Award, comes as the next step in my efforts to incorporate open end creative experiences in ealy childhood development. I think of this picture book as a sort of performance art meant to break down the wall between the expert storyteller and the kids by getting them involved because children are expert readers of pictures and no words are necessary. In this sense, the book fits neatly within the larger body of my work since it is meant to provoke a desire to impose a story upon the image.
As mom to two grade-school children with a wide range of interests I am comfortable around young children and at ease in making Here Comes Ingo come alive in a relatable way while holding a class's attention very effectively.
Most authors aren't teachers. While they may pick up techniques with practice, they are not actually trained in crowd control which makes for a difficult situation when fidgety, young students are involved. Here's when my master's degree in education from Teachers College, Columbia University as well as years of teaching college freshmen (young and fidgety in their own way) come to the rescue. It doesn't hurt that my presentation includes a lively Q&A time, a (popular) demo of how a photomontage is made and a student-centered classroom activity ensuring that students achieve a deep understanding of the content through opportunities to apply the newly presented information in practical and imaginative ways culled from sources as diverse as the Magic Lantern Art (UK-based, one-of-a-kind art awards supporter educational charity), Edutopia (George Lucas Educational Foundation) and ARTSEDGE (the educational media arm of the Kennedy Center).
4 Wordless Wonder
This book is not only a collection of beautiful collages that speak about kindness, inclusion and unprejudiced mindset because the world needs more empathetic, understanding and tolerant children. It allows for fun and educational interaction including role-play and helps develop skills including communication, visual observation, critical thinking and confidence. Doodle Academy, Buggy and Buddy and The Primary Art Class are some of the inspirations in viewing Here Comes Ingo as the type of educational tool that can be used to teach young students about setting, structure flow and attention to detail. Ideal for kindergarten and grade school children, this book may prove a precious help for teachers who seek out opportunities for art projects, creative writing and other education avenues that grip young readers' imagination while teaching them valuable lessons about comprehension (what do you think is happening?), predicting (what do you think will happen next?), inferring (what makes you think that?), reasoning (what do you think that happened?) and sequencing (what happened first? next? last?).
5 Class Activity: A Painting Made With Scissors
Wordless picture books such as Here Comes Ingo are tricky at times. Would your students struggle to get to grips with the open-end nature of the book? Would they embrace its creative challenges? Take it from The Picture Book Review who writes: Xheka says on the back of her book that, “this wordless picture book familiarizes children with figurative art collage.” And her book definitely does that. Her illustrations inspire my children and have my boys asking where the scissors are so that they can go and create their own collages. There’s an honesty and rawness about the images that makes my kids say, “I want to create, too.” Each illustration is a carefully orchestrated arrangement of various cut outs of animal, insects and birds in order to produce a final image that is as unexpected as it is imbued in suggestive possibilities much to the tune of Matisse’s adage that a paper collage is “a painting made with scissors”.
- I will introduce students to a short history of collage and various purposes it can be used for. I will provide appropriate examples and will ask students to come up with their own ideas.
- I will introduce students to photomontage as a special type of collage focusing on photography. I will explain my reasons for choosing this type of collage to create Here Comes Ingo book illustrations.
- I will invite students to observe how I go about creating book illustrations starting from the blank page and adding layers upon layers of cut outs from magazines. Students will be encouraged to offer their suggestions as to which color, shape, cut out I should use next.
- I will present students with a complete Art-Supply List for Budding Artists and will distribute art materials for each group/table as well as one double-page from Here Comes Ingo.
- I will instruct students to use the book page (front & back) as the initial stage upon which to reenact scenes from their imagination by drawing, painting, glueing, sticking and doodling ON the page. Working in small groups will make them understand that in order to complete their artwork they need to be able to communicate their ideas clearly and be tolerant of each others' differences.
- I will observe and take notes how students on each group (1)break through shyness (2) play their way through group rivalry (3)express and understand negotiation (4)cooperate without power struggle (5) empower themselves and respect diversity
- I will encourage each group to present the final collage to the class having, hopefully, instilled a sense of pride on the self-directed (art) project.
6 Process Art versus Art&Crafts as time-filler
Crafts involve children following directions to reproduce an adult’s idea and require no original thinking. They are meant to be useful, practical or educational. Arts, on the other hand, especially Process Art allows children to experiment with their own ideas and art materials with no known outcome in order to help them think openly, create new meaning, be more tolerant of others’ differences and have the courage to take creative risks.
7 Follow up opportunity
Even though my book presentation/class visit has obvious time limits, I take the time to engage with the students long after Here Comes Ingo has left their classroom. Follow-up materials as well as post-event correspondence extend the impact of my visit. As a matter of fact, one of my most precious possessions is a Thank You Notes book given to me by Brooklyn School of Inquiry second graders who loved the book and all the activities they partecipated in during the class event. Not only did they enjoy the opportunity to engage with the book in a direct way but they also loved drawing their own "book covers" during choice time the next day.
8 Natural World vs. Pokemon and Fortnite
Yes, sure, open-end creative experiences are a great way to help children reach their early childhood developmental milestones...but there is a big difference between having absolute certainty that art is a way to encourage reflection, innovation& creativity and having the guts to present a wordless picture book (quelle horreur) to 5-8 year olds in love with Pokemon, Minecraft and Fortnite. I did it and I survived to tell the story. Hint, they loved Here Comes Ingo almost as much as they loved their own art illustrations made ON the page.
Ever seen an author charging $1500- $2500 for their full-day visit? What school has that money? It shouldn't break your budget to give your students an opportunity to meet the author. My fee is $750 for a one-day author visit to New York area. This includes a maximum of four presentations. My fee for a standalone one-hour book presentation is $250. All presentations include art materials, original Here Comes Ingo book page illustrations, sticker pack and a gift of 4x6 framed picture featuring Ingo for each student to take home. If you'd like to add a before- or after-school one-hour PD session on top of the school visit, the fee is $200.
For funding opportunities look into:
Please contact me for out-of-state visit fees.
10 Because I reached out
How many other author/illustrators have sent you an email? I personally reach out to schools, libraries and kid frindly venues because I believe in the worthiness of Here Comes Ingo as a wonderful creative tool available to use in myriad ways as I mention in this interview.