Frequently Asked Questions ~ FAQs
1. How does constructing movable figures help children learn?
As a parent or educator, you already know that many children quickly forget what they learn about famous people. However, by engaging children in the learning process through hands-on activities, the people who played a key role in shaping our world seem more real, and history comes alive.
Through the process of constructing movable figures, children benefit from a hands-on manipulative that makes each person more real and memorable. They can envision what the person may have looked like and see how he or she dressed. They can also play with the movable figures and act out historical events, using their imagination to explore the lives of people who lived hundreds or thousands of years ago.
A brief biographical note on each famous person is included in the books, explaining a little about each character. With this background, children can create their own stories about other civilizations, including Ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, China, Greece and Rome.
The children have a lot of fun putting the figures together. After coloring, cutting and assembling the figures, children have a sturdy moving figure that they can play with again and again.
2. What ages of children will benefit from your books?
The books are created for children ages 6-12. Younger children may have difficulty building the historical figures, but children as young as 4 or 5 years old will learn from interacting with the figures, once an adult builds the figures for them. Even very young children can use these moving figures to sense the wonder of history.
3. How big are the figures? Are they sturdy?
Once constructed, the figures stand from about 10 to 13 inches tall. Because they are made from heavy-duty card stock, they are durable, allowing children to play with them over and over again. Detailed and easy to follow assembly instructions are included on the back of each figure.
4. How did you choose the 20 historical figures to feature in your first book, Famous Figures of Ancient Times?
I selected 20 of the most influential leaders in ancient history to be a part of this book, including Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, Jesus, King David, and Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi (builder of the Great Wall of China). All of these individuals played an important role in world history, and they are still remembered today, even though they lived thousands of years ago.
Why did I include an elephant? Hannibal’s elephant is such an integral part of the story of this well known military commander that it had to be included!
5. How do you make the figures in your book? How do you make sure that your figures are historically accurate?
To make each historical figure accurate, I research costumes for the time period in which the person lived. In addition, I locate statues, mosaics, and paintings of the famous person and refer to them as I create the figure. I also study literature about each person to learn about the color of the person’s eyes, hair, etc. One of my favorite books for costume research is The Complete Costume History by August Racinet. This book was originally published in France between 1876 and 1888 and is an excellent resource.
Once I complete my research, I make several sketches of each figure in various poses, and then I choose one to best represent the figure in a movable action pose. This sketch is transferred to the computer through the use of a digital tablet and Adobe Illustrator. The sketch is optimized and sometimes stylized to simplify the lines. Then I add color.
After the sketch is completed, I break it down into movable pieces and test it. This is done by printing it and adjusting the drawing to optimize the way the parts move. I usually repeat this process several times in order to create an interesting, movable figure.
6. What other books are planned?
The Famous Figures series continues with Famous Figures of the United States, Famous Figures of Medieval Times, Famous Figures of the Renaissance, Famous Figures of the Bible, and Famous Women in History.
Children will also have fun with upcoming moving animal titles, such as Dinosaurs on the Move and Animals Running Wild. These books will provide children with opportunities to build, touch, and interact with animals that will capture their imagination, and give parents and educators new tools to engage children in learning.
7. Where can we see more of your work?
The Famous Figures series of books continues to expand, including famous people from ancient times, medieval times, the Renaissance, and the United States. I’ll also be adding a book about Famous Women in History. In addition, I am working on a series of moving animal titles, which will include Dinosaurs on the Move and Animals Running Wild.
My airbrush work has been included in illustration and airbrush reference books, including The Encyclopedia of Illustration Techniques, The Encyclopedia of Airbrush Techniques, and The Airbrush Painter’s Pocket Palette: Practical, Visual Advice on How to Render Over 300 Effects and Textures.
I have also illustrated several children’s books, including Goodbye Goose and Kitty Goes Splash, and my illustrations have been published in various magazines.
8. When did you become interested in drawing? Where did you learn how to draw?
Drawing and creating art for others has always been a part of my life. I can remember drawing people when I was very young. Besides drawing with pencil, colored pencil and charcoal, I have experimented with water color, oil, and acrylic painting, scratchboard, pen and ink, and airbrush painting.
My first formal education in art was at the Toledo Museum of Art. I was also fortunate to be tutored in high school by a fine artist and an illustrator who took an interest in my work. I was commissioned to create paintings in my high school art classes and had art exhibitions at various libraries. In addition, I attended classes at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco.
9. What kind of information do you include in your free e-newsletter?
The free e-newsletter for the Figures In Motion Club includes fascinating facts about the great men and women of history and the time in which they lived. Readers can explore new ways to make history come alive for children. You will receive projects for your students and links to learn more about famous people, archaeology, art, architecture, maps, and geography.