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Jon Agee brings the old adage, "Art imitates life," alive with surprising twists in the picture book, The Incredible Painting of Felix Clousseau. Introduce your class to a book about an unknown artist and let them figure out the clues shown in the illustrations. This book needs to be read in such a way that everyone in the class can see the pictures on each page.
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Artists from all over Paris gather to show their art at the Royal Palace. An unknown painter named Felix Clousseau also brings his art piece to the show. Everyone laughed at his work until the painting, "quacked." All of a sudden, Felix Clousseau became famous around Paris.
Trouble began as his paintings came to life. Sadly, Felix was put in prison because of all the chaos this caused. He was eventually set free when one of his paintings made him a hero.
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In the story, Felix Clousseau was commissioned to create paintings for people all over Paris. Ask the class if they know what the word commissioned means. If they could commission, or order, an artist to create a painting that came to life, what would they like. Have the students write a letter to Felix Clousseau asking for their special commission. They can also draw an example of the painting they would like to hang in their bedroom, or give as a gift. Let them share their choices with the class.
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Gather a collection of masterpiece art reproduction postcards. If these are not available, bring magazine photos, such as photo spread advertisements, or copies from the computer. Divide the class into small groups. Give each group a postcard, advertisement or copy from the computer. Encourage the students to work together on writing a story about what might happen if the painting came to life.
The end of the story has an illustration where Felix Clousseau walks right into his painting. Let the kids choose whether or not they want the story to be about the painting coming to life and out of the constraints of the page; or if they would like to jump into the picture. Either way, have them write what would happen.
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After Felix Clousseau was released from prison because of the clever work of one of his masterpieces, the story states that he became a hero and went back to his painting. Ask the class if they think he had people commissioning pieces again. Who might order a painting? Have the class brainstorm other ways an "Incredible Painting by Felix Clousseau" could save the day. What would the painting be of? Where would it be hung?
Have the class write and draw their ideas, then share what they think might happen next in the story.
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Agee, Jon, The Incredible Painting of Felix Clousseau, 1988