Peter Brown and Behind the Book visit PS 376!

A great book will help you see the world in a new way; it will show you a new point of view,  help you notice things you would normally overlook, or allow you to imagine new possibilities.  Fourth grade students from PS 376 in Bushwick had this exact experience during their Behind the Book program with the book The Curious Garden by Peter Brown.

The story’s main character, Liam, discovers and nurtures a struggling garden; the garden grows so well under Liam’s care that it overtakes the whole city, transforming it from a dull, grey place to a beautiful green one.

Inspired by Liam, and with Peter Brown’s guidance, the fourth graders created stories about problems they notice in their own neighborhoods and how the community can come together to solve them. Students wrote about cleaning up their local park, planting more trees and getting trash off the streets.

Yesterday, Behind the Book and The Curious Garden author/illustrator Peter Brown had their second visit to Ms. Salcedo’s 4th grade class to help the students create an illustration to accompany their stories. Since the art program at PS 376 was cut a few years ago, the students and their teacher were especially excited to be creating art.


Peter showed the class how he used color very deliberately in his illustrations. Before the garden takes over, the city is very dreary and so he used only very muted colors. But after the garden takes over, the city is full of life and so he saturated his pictures with color!

Peter also explained how everything can be drawn with just straight lines, circles, and squiggly lines; if you can draw those, you can draw anything. He demonstrated by drawing a character from a new book!


The class was excited to start on their own illustrations. Like Peter, they drew before and after pictures, using different color palates to show the changes that happened in their stories.





They turned out great!



After, each of the students got a personalized signed copy of The Curious Garden.

Next, the students will polish their final draft of writing as they add details from their illustrations that their writing might have been missing. Empowered by their new role as authors, the students will continue their hard work and decide on the final design of their book. Mrs. Salcedo and Behind the Book are delighted to see how excited the class is to read more books by Peter Brown and to continue working on their writing.  All the art supplies from the workshop will stay in the class, so the students can use what they learned with Peter Brown to create art for the rest of the year!

Stay tuned for their published book!  We’ll be sure to post a digital copy on our website.



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