This September, contemporary portrait artist Chuck Close’s unconventional autobiography, Chuck Close: Face Book (rev. 5/12), was awarded the 2012 Boston Globe–Horn Book Award for nonfiction. The following are Horn Book Guide–recommended books (including BGHB Nonfiction Honor Award–winner Georgia in Hawaii) for elementary-age readers — some biographical, others historical and artistic overviews, still others instigators for creative engagement.
Assistant Editor, The Horn Book Guide
Burleigh, Robert George Bellows: Painter with a Punch
40 pp. Abrams 2012 ISBN 978-1-4197-0166-5
Gr. 4–6 Burleigh relates Bellows’s life, from his childhood in Ohio through his career in New York City as a painter of the Ashcan School. His style, fascination with the urban working class, and passion for sports are all touched on. The simple and clean design sets captioned photos and reproductions of the artist’s most famous paintings opposite detail-rich text. Bib., ind.
Heine, Florian 13 Painters Children Should Know
48 pp. Prestel 2012 ISBN 978-3-7913-7086-6
Gr. 4–6 This large-format volume provides a thorough overview of some of history’s most influential painters, organized chronologically from Hieronymus Bosch to Basquiat. Captioned high-quality images of masterpieces support the informational text, which addresses styles, backgrounds, and inspirations; engaging personal details and anecdotes are also included. Sporadic quiz questions and activity suggestions encourage reader participation. Timeline. Glos.
Kutschbach, Doris The Art Treasure Hunt: I Spy with My Little Eye
46 pp. Prestel 2012 ISBN 978-3-7913-7097-2
Gr. K–3 This seek-and-find book offers a creative way to instill art appreciation in children. Spreads assign readers a list of things to find within a work of art — eighteenth-century Indian miniatures, a Hokusai woodcut, and Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte among them. A guide to the pictures reveals the puzzle solutions and includes brief artist bios.
Lewis, J. Patrick and Jane Yolen Self-Portrait with Seven Fingers: The Life of Marc Chagall in Verse
40 pp. Creative Editions 2011 ISBN 978-1-56846-211-0
Gr. 4–6 In elegant verse, Lewis and Yolen put words to some of Chagall’s famous works. Paragraphs of supporting biographical text and vibrant reproductions of the art are paired with poems, mostly written in the first person, that feel like Chagall’s own authentic voice; occasional photographs are included. A novel way to package an artist biography and impart admiration of mastery. Bib., glos.
Novesky, Amy Georgia in Hawaii: When Georgia O’Keeffe Painted What She Pleased
32 pp. Harcourt 2012 ISBN 978-0-15-205420-5
Gr. K–3 Illustrated by Yuyi Morales. In 1939, O’Keeffe was commissioned by the Hawaiian Pineapple Company (later Dole) to tour Hawaii and create promotional paintings of the exotic fruit. But she fell in love with other features of the islands — volcanoes, tropical flora, rare coral — and stubbornly wouldn’t “be told what to paint.” Novesky’s lulling prose is matched by Morales’s elegant, paradisiacal acrylics inspired by O’Keeffe’s art. Reading list.
Thomas, Isabel Collages
24 pp. Heinemann 2011 LE ISBN 978-1-4329-5020-0
PE ISBN 978-1-4329-5027-9
Thomas, Isabel Drawing
24 pp. Heinemann 2011 LE ISBN 978-1-4329-5016-3
PE ISBN 978-1-4329-5023-1
Thomas, Isabel Painting
24 pp. Heinemann 2011 LE ISBN 978-1-4329-5018-7
PE ISBN 978-1-4329-5025-5
Gr. K–3 Start with Art series. With only two sentences per page, these are very simple introductions to some types of visual arts for young children. Illustrations include reproductions of famous works in different styles. Photos show children painting, drawing, and making collages, helping readers see connections between the featured art and possibilities for their own creative work, as well as providing inspiration and encouraging expressiveness. Websites. Glos., ind.
Zalben, Jane Breskin Mousterpiece
40 pp. Roaring Brook/Porter 2012 ISBN 978-1-59643-549-0
Gr. K–3 Museum-dwelling mouse Janson likes to explore at night. When she finds the modern wing, her creativity takes off as she emulates alluded-to artists (e.g., “she painted inside the lines” nods to Piet Mondrian), but her eventual “mousterpiece” is satisfyingly in her own unique style. Zalben nails the modern-art homages in her kid-friendly illustrations; the appended “Janson’s Favorite Artists” guide reveals the inspirations.
From the November/December 2012 issue of The Horn Book Magazine. These reviews are from The Horn Book Guide and The Horn Book Guide Online. For information about subscribing to the Guide and the Guide Online, click here.