Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor

Emma’s Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty – Linda Glaser and Claire A. Nivola, Sandpiper of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010

emma_cover

This is a book about Emma Lazarus (1849-1887) and the “mother of exiles.” No, not the aspiring immigrant mothers, forced for various reasons to leave their homelands, whom we have all been watching with something close to despair, as their children are taken from them, and from their fathers, in a cruel and calculated spectacle.  Linda Glaser and Claire Nivola’s book describes the activism and the creative process of Lazarus, the daughter of an affluent and assimilated Jewish family, as she struggled to give a voice to the statue in New York Harbor, welcoming masses of disadvantaged and frightened newcomers, many Jewish like herself.  The poem which Lazarus wrote, later set to music by the great composer Irving Berlin, became a permanent part of the best of American culture, the part which does not turn away desperate people, but welcomes them and invites them to contribute to that culture in myriad ways.

The endpapers of the book contain a facsimile of the manuscript of “The New Colossus,” and the text encourages readers to understand how and why Lazarus wrote her poem.  Emma’s childhood is characterized by plenty: “a large comfortable house,” “plenty of books,” “plenty of good food,” and a loving family.  Her life is supportive and rich, but also something of a trap for Emma:

“Even when Emma was all grown up,
and by then a well-known writer,
she still only knew people
who had plenty of everything.”

The simplicity of Glaser’s language is both poetic and informational, in the best way.  She helps young readers to understand how advantages can bring their own limitations, and also how Emma’s empathy and sensitivity helped her to accomplish her goal.  Seeing the poor on Ward’s Island, Emma noted their sadness and poverty. “They were the poorest people/Emma had ever seen./Her heart hurt to see them.” Emma’s sorrow leads her to action and she becomes involved in the lives of those who need her help.

glaser10-585x273

Glaser presents the composition of the poem as a combination of thought and feeling. Lazarus determines to imagine what the Lady in the Harbor, whom she termed the Mother of Exiles,” might say if she could speak, and the resulting poem has become synonymous with the great wave of immigration which brought so many people of such diverse backgrounds to our country .The restrictive immigration laws of 1921, 1924, and 1929 dimmed the light represented by statue and poem, and suspicion, even hatred, of immigrants has continued to be part of American life.

Nivola is a brilliant artist (I have blogged about her here and here and here), whose detailed and richly colored paintings capture the time period with realism and beauty.  Lazarus sits at her ornate desk in a beautifully appointed room of Persian carpet and tall potted plants. Her long bright purple dress calls the viewer’s eye to the center of the picture, where she begins to write her poem.  The same poet, this time dressed in somber black, helps an elderly man learn to read from a bright green covered book. Other immigrants stand in the background, including a young mother, her back to the reader, holding a sleeping baby as she talks to an elderly relative.  Nivola’s pictures also show the construction of the statue, and bring the story into the present with pictures of multicultural schoolchildren learning the poem:

New_Colossus_manuscript_Lazarus

 “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Published eight years ago, Emma’s Poem, like Lazarus’ work itself, will apparently never be out-of-date and will always be worth reading with our children.  Glaser’s careful narrative and Nivola’s luminous pictures frame the history of Emma Lazarus and the Statue of Liberty with unforgettable words and images.

 

 

Jane Austen, Heroine

Ordinary, Extraordinary Jane Austen – Deborah Hopkinson and Qin Leng, Balzer + Bray, 2018

34972694._UY630_SR1200,630_

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a woman writer, especially one who lived a long time ago, is a heroine for bookish girls.  How best to introduce her life and work to girls, and boys, still too young to read her sophisticated and ironic commentary on life around her? For all her accessible plots and appealing characters, Austen’s language and historic references may become a harder sell to kids raised on contemporary fare.  Deborah Hopkinson and Qin Leng, in her their new picture book biography of Austen, make an enthusiastic case for the author as someone who one would want to meet if we could, and whose books should be eagerly anticipated.

Hopkinson is the author of many critically acclaimed works of both fiction and informational books. Leng is an outstanding artist; her work includes a charming picture book, with Monica Kulling, about the devoted relationship of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas. They are a perfect match for presenting the intimate but glorious world of Austen’s novels as a joyful one.

Hopkinson’s young Jane knows what she wants.  Equally happy having fun with her…

Continue reading “Jane Austen, Heroine”

Graham Greene, Children’s Author

The Little Train – Graham Greene and Edward Ardizzone, Jonathan Cape, 2014 (paperback edition published by Red Fox in 2017, both are reissues of original 1973 Doubleday editions)

The Third Man, The Quiet American, The Power and the Glory, Our Man in Havana, and…The Little Train.  British novelist Graham Greene, known for his dark and complex explorations of such adult themes as religious faith, abuses of power, and the desperation that sometimes underlies relationships between men and women, also wrote about trains and steamrollers.  While the hero of The Little Train ends the book with “his heart too full of joy for words” when the mayor of Little Snoreing praises his bravery, the tension leading up to this moment may cause young readers a bit of anxiety.  In fact, the Little Train has something in common with Greene’s British intelligence agents and conflicted priests, at least as much as he has with Thomas, Edward, and Percy of the Isle of Sodor.

littletrain

The Little Train is a model of punctuality, respected by all the residents of his “lovely sleepy village.” Yet he can’t leave well enough alone, as he is “sometimes bored to tears.” Fed up with his lack of adventure, he decides to make a break for it at an uncharacteristic speed, inspired by thoughts of “Freedom, freedom, freedom.” Before long, he is thirsty and depressed, thinking of “explorers who had died of thirst in the desert,” and shutting his eyes in “deadly fear” of his unaccustomed speed. It is rare for children’s books about trains to use the word “death,” but this one does, in addition to “desolation,” “gloomy,” “grim,” and “demons.” Like Tootle, who refused to stay on the tracks, or The Poky Little Puppy’s persistent crawling under fences, the Little Train…

Continue reading “Graham Greene, Children’s Author”

The Petrinis, Mefisto, and The Magic Flute

Book discussed:  Pet of the Met – Lydia and Don Freeman, Viking Penguin, 1953

There is a publishing and educational toy industry devoted to ensuring that even very young children are exposed to the types of cultural experiences that will allegedly expand their brain capacities and ensure success later in life.  The “Baby Einstein” series, for all the obnoxious pretense of its title, actually includes cute board books that help toddlers distinguish circles from squares.  There are innumerable biographies of composers, authors, and scientists, ranging from appallingly bad to quite distinguished.   There are also helpful guides to acquainting older children with the opera, ballet, or theater, sometimes focusing on exciting summaries of the plots, or emphasizing the specific roles of the different professionals involved in these worlds.

pet

There is another route to immersion in the arts, one taken by Lydia and Don Freeman’s unfortunately out of print classic Pet of the Met, in which a family of unassuming and gentle mice live in a harp case in the Metropolitan Opera House’s attic.  (Don Freeman is, of course, the creator of Corduroy.  I have blogged about him before, and he is the subject at a major upcoming exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York.)  The father, Maestro Petrini, supports his family by working as a page turner for the Opera House’s prompter.  All is not idyllic, even with a secure job and affordable housing, as a truly terrifying cat named Mefisto, drawn by Freeman with huge green eyes, fangs, and feline muscles well adapted to destroying mice, threatens their home.

So it’s a little bit of a roller coaster for young readers.  They learn about the fanciful plot of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, and see the colorful costume and ecstatic expression of Papageno the bird catcher as he breaks into song.  The following page’s text states that “the audience was all eyes and ears,” and the picture is literally all eyes, blue ones opened wide against the equally blue background of the darkened theater.   

Pet of the Met is not at all didactic, but children will learn while reading or listening to it. They will learn that music and spectacle are composed of many elements: the charm of beautiful sounds, the ingenuity of designing a costume out of “some dark-blue cheesecloth,” the moment when the lights dim and “Everyone was silent and expectant.”  Freeman’s dramatic theatrical scenes, evoking action and suspense, alternate with delicate renderings of mouse life that are comforting and oddly familiar.

The three Petrini children watch the production under a brass rail and behind a pair of a human’s white gloves, accompanied by their mother who is, appropriately, wearing pearls.  By the story’s conclusion, even Mefisto has been tamed by the music: “He purred himself to sleep with a tune from The Magic Flute.” In the final picture, he and Maestro Petrini stroll arm-in-arm towards the dress circle, the mouse in tuxedo and top hat, the cat, still a bit wild, unclothed as he carries the score to the prompter.  This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

God Bless Irving Berlin

Write On, Irving Berlin – Leslie Kimmelman and David C. Gardner, Sleeping Bear Press, 2018

berlin

On his draft registration card from 1917, available at the National Archives, we read that Irving Berlin was from Mogilov, Russia (probably Mogilev, Belarus), that he was not married, and that his occupation was “Composer Music.”  That was to become an understatement of fantastic proportions.  In Leslie Kimmelman (about whom I have blogged before) and David C. Gardner’s wonderful new production, Write On, Irving Berlin, children learn how a poor Jewish immigrant from Russia who came to the United States to escape persecution became one of the greatest and most beloved songwriters in the history of his adopted country (so much so that there are THREE recent children’s books on him).  The book conveys both important information and joyous enthusiasm as it unfolds much like one of Berlin’s musicals, complete with happy ending.

Kimmelman pointedly describes the young Izzy Baline as a frightened little boy who has been traumatized by anti-Semitic violence in Russia, but is able to adapt to life in a land where political and religious freedom offset the poverty of crowding of New York’s Lower East Side.  Kimmelman’s narrative highlights Berlin’s persistence and ability to adapt rather than his almost superhuman gifts, allowing young readers to identify with his challenges and successes.  Understatement and simplicity bring our hero center stage:

“When Izzy was thirteen, his father died.  Izzy dropped out of
school and moved out of the family apartment.  There will be
one less person for my mother to worry about, he thought.

Izzy made money by – what else? – singing.

He sang in saloons.

He sang in the choruses of shows.

He sang as he waited tables in restaurants.”

There are many references to prejudice, including the nasty skeptics who suggested that a Jewish composer was not capable of understanding American culture enough to have written both “God Bless America” and “White Christmas.”  Kimmelman also adds historical background in explaining that Berlin insisted that integrated audiences of black and white soldiers in the still segregated U.S. military both perform in and watch his World War II musical, This Is the Army. A helpful author’s note, as well as an endearing list of the Kimmelman’s favorite Berlin songs and a short list of books for further reading provide a nice encore.

David Gardner’s expressive illustrations portray Berlin from childhood to old age. With his dark wavy hair, prominent nose, and conspicuous glasses, this is a portrait of the artist as a regular guy.  The versatility of Gardner’s images does justice to a thoughtful Corporal Berlin penning lyrics with one hand while he plays the piano’s black keys with the other, and also to a group of GI’s gathered around their jeep in the snow, listening to Berlin’s “White Christmas” on the radio.   He captures Berlin’s drive to create, not as an obsessive genius, but a person who just can’t stop writing.  In a two-page spread, Kimmelman details the quirks of his work process:

“He scribbled ideas on napkins and on the sleeves of his shirt.

He wrote songs in elevators and taxicabs.

He wrote songs in the bathtub.

He wrote all night long.”

BATHTUB

Gardner’s Berlin is seated in the bathtub, a ribbon of musical notes swirling around him.  This imaginative detail is grounded by real ones: a manuscript of “Blue Skies” on a writing table sitting across the tub, his white shirt hanging nearby with lyrics on the cuffs, a toy boat and rubber duck on the floor since the tub is full.  “Easter Parade,” “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” and “Cheek to Cheek” are also part of the scene, offering an opportunity to explain, recite, or sing to kids fortunate enough to be reading this book.

Write on, Irving Berlin should attract a large audience and should plan for a very long run.

 

 

 

 

Walt Whitman’s Almost Bicentennial

Book cited:  Walt Whitman: Words for America – Barbara Kerley and Brian Selznick, Scholastic Press, 2004

Walt Whitman was born on May 31, 1819. We can prepare for his bicentennial by reading his poems, maybe one a day. If you already do that, introducing those poems, as well as the story of his life, to children, would be an act of the kind of patriotism that Whitman endorsed. It’s a good time to remind them that “barbaric” doesn’t have to mean ignorant and cruel, a betrayer of true American values, but the opposite.  As the poet wrote:

“I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable,
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.”

whitman cover

Walt Whitman: Words for America brings the experience of reading poetry to children and young adults who may have been cheated of it, or perhaps only given poems written in a contemporary idiom.  The book shows great respect for kids’ ability to immerse themselves in the past through the meticulous detail of the text by Barbara Kerley and the drawings by Brian Selznick, as well as to learn about the intersection of art and history.

whitman

If young readers have ever seen an image of Whitman, it might be a photo of him as a bearded patriarch in a history textbook. That is who he would become, but Kerley and Selznick introduce us to a young printer’s apprentice with dirt on his face, intent on, literally, choosing the right words.  In fact, one of the most interesting features of this ingeniously designed book is the dialogue between the physical world, to which children naturally relate, and the literary and imaginative realm of words.

young whitman

The opening page of the book announces the indisputable fact that “WALT WHITMAN LOVED WORDS” in large type divided among three lines.  In other words, if you don’t accept or understand that premise, the book will change your mind.  The rest of the page describes how much Walt loved actual words, sticky, inky, metal ones and the image they left on newspaper.  In fact, the two pages form a kind of visual pun. The young apprentice stands in front of a shelf taller than he is, carefully selecting letters from trays of neatly labeled fonts. Partially cut 0ff documents in three corners and a heavy looking coffee pot in the fourth one frame the type of cinematic picture for which Selznick is famous.

Continue reading “Walt Whitman’s Almost Bicentennial”

For Memorial Day, We’re Reading the Constitution

Books referenced:

Shh! We’re Writing the Constitution!– Jean Fritz and Tomie dePaola, Puffin Books, 2017 (reprint of 1987 edition)

We the People: the Constitution of the United States – Peter Spier, Doubleday Books for Young Readers, 2014 (reprint of 1987 edition)

Who could forget the heartbreaking moment at the Democratic National Convention of 2016 when Mr. Khizr Khan, supported by his wife, Mrs. Ghazala Khan, pointedly offered to loan Donald Trump his pocket edition of the United State Constitution, a document that he correctly implied that Trump had never read? The Khans’ son, Captain Humayun Khan, had been killed in 2004, a casualty of the war in Iraq.  Trump, once an implausible candidate, but now, unbelievably, the president of the United States, has revealed on a daily basis his abject ignorance of our founders’ ideals, and is utterly unable to comply with his oath to “preserve, protect, and defend” the Constitution for which Captain Khan gave his life. In addition to sharing books about other soldiers who have made this sacrifice, through just and unjust wars, popular and unpopular conflicts, it is also a good day to help our children to understand what service to our country means. It does not mean using public office to enrich oneself and one’s family. It does not mean mocking those who have served, been captured, or killed. It does not mean issuing a fiat by twitter rejecting the service of transgender Americans. It does not mean assaulting and degrading women. It certainly does not mean deriding the immigrants who have contributed to every area of American life.

depaolo

Jean Fritz tells the exciting and accessible tale of the men who hammered out the agreement necessary to sew together the disparate states in order to form a more perfect union.  Parents and teachers will want to explain in much greater detail how this work of genius included allowing slave owners to ensure their continued exploitation of African-American people and to exclude them from “the blessings of liberty” which the document promises.  The book’s chatty narrative style, in fact, makes it easier to engage in a conversation about American history, and how we are still participating in and perfecting the process that Fritz describes.  Tomie dePaola’s pictures bring the Constitution’s authors into the recognizable world where symbols become real people.

spier

Peter Spier’s book is a beautiful tribute to the best of our inclusive country, the very nature of which Trump is so deeply suspicious that he needs to uproot and destroy it.  The book pairs the actual text of the Constitution with pictures of ordinary Americans throughout history engaged in the activities protected and enhanced by our founders’ vision, and, when they could not see far enough, by later generations.  We see diverse images of Americans becoming educated, enjoying leisure time, practicing our religion, serving in the military, working to support ourselves and our families, and using the systems of transportation that connect our vast space.

Thank you to all the fallen soldiers and to all the American families who suffered losses.  We the people still define how we will support and defend, or tragically, distort and erode it until it no longer works.  We need to give children the tools they need to make those decisions; good books help.

 

 

Farewell, Philip Roth

Book Discussed:  The Plot Against America – Philip Roth, Houghton Mifflin, 2004

roth

Philip Roth died on May 23. No, he was not a writer for children.  But in his 2004 counterfactual novel about American isolationism, xenophobia, and sympathy with fascism in the 1930s and 40s, he assumed the voice of his childhood self. In fact, I consider the novel is appropriate as a young adult selection.

Sometimes childhood is a frightening and threatened place:

“Fear presides over these memories, a perpetual fear.  Of course no childhood is without its terrors, yet I wonder if I would have been a less frightened boy if Lindbergh hadn’t been president or if I hadn’t been the offspring of Jews.”

Roth’s novel assumes that isolationist and Nazi sympathizer Charles Lindbergh has been elected president in 1940. Lindbergh, a hero to most Americans because of his transatlantic flight and his supposed embodiment of the American values of independence and courage, had long been a vocal opponent of aid to the Allies and had openly praised the Nazi party. In his infamous Des Moines speech of September, 1941, he accused Jews of promoting intervention in Europe, and accused American Jews of having undue and pernicious influence in our country.

It is interesting that Lindbergh is still presented in some children’s books as an unvarnished American hero, or at worst, as a complex and flawed figure (for example here and here.) Even James Cross Giblin’s supposedly evenhanded Charles A. Lindbergh: a Human Hero, characterizes the views expressed in his speech as “controversial,” and attempts to explain them partly as a psychological response to the kidnapping and murder of his son.  Young adults reading this book should learn that after the massive violence against Jews on Kristallnacht, 1938, Lindbergh refused to return the medal he had accepted from Hermann Göring, claiming it had been a “gesture of friendship.”

The young Philip of the novel is an enthusiastic stamp collector, and proud of the fact that he shares this obsession with Franklin Roosevelt. In a devastating and yet poetic passage of the destruction of childhood innocence, he has a nightmare in which his prized collection of 1934 stamps commemorating America’s national parks is transformed into a hideous tribute to Nazism:

plot_

“I fell out of the bed and woke up on the floor, this time screaming.  Yosemite in California, Grand Canyon in Arizona, Mesa Verde in Colorado, Crater Lake in Oregon, Acadia in Maine, Mount Ranier in Washington, Yellowstone in Wyoming, Zion in Utah, Glacier in Montana, the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee —and across the face of each, across the cliffs, the woods, the rivers, the peaks, the geyser, the gorges, the granite coastline, across the deep blue water and the high waterfalls, across everything in America that was the bluest and the greenest and the whitest and to be preserved forever in these pristine reservations, was printed a black swastika.”

In remembering Roth, it is fitting to note that The Plot Against America details all the dimensions of totalitarianism, including the way in which it disfigures childhood.

Joe Krush: Co-creator of The Borrowers Turns 100

Book discussed in detail Miracles on Maple Hill – Virginia Sorensen and Beth and Joe Krush, Harcourt Young Classics, 2003 (reprint of 1956 edition)

Today is the one hundredth birthday of American illustrator Joe Krush.  Both in his own work, and especially during his years of collaboration with his wife, Beth, (1918-2009), he made indelible contributions to American books for children (as I wrote before here and here).  Please look at today’s blog entry on The Horn Book for my brief celebration of his life and career.

220px-GoneAwayLakeMiracles_on_Maple_Hill_1956_cover

Prizes are ultimately not the final or most significant evaluation of an artist’s work. Although the Krushes never won a Caldecott, they did illustrate one Newbery and one Newbery Honor book.  The Newbery Honor went to Gone-Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright, and the Newbery to Virginia Sorensen’s Miracles on Maple Hill.  This is a wonderful novel which is only superficially dated and still deserves to be read and taught.  The “miracles” of the title are events in the natural world, as well as the support of community in a small maple sugar producing town in rural Pennsylvania.  The Krushes’ pictures, as they always do, work inextricably with the text to create characters and settings to which children will relate.  Marly is a ten-year-old girl whose father, a veteran and former POW, suffers from what we would today identify as PTSD.  Had the book been written today, references to clinical depression, even violence, might enter the story.  In 1956, allusions to the father’s anger and exhaustion were enough to explain why the family needs a miracle.

maplehillinside

The opening two title pages show a small girl in the distance dressed for winter. She is looking towards a group of run-down buildings and a curing broken fence.  This is apparently going to be the setting for a series of miracles, and without this introduction by the Krushes readers might be less intrigued.  The village certainly doesn’t look miraculous.  Throughout the book Marly’s series of tense, hopeful, and joyous experiences appear in the Krushes’ drawings.

Miracles-on-Maple-Hill-Cooking-Mess-650x432

Eager to please her family, Marly decides to surprise everyone by cooking pancakes on the antiquated stove. She winds up starting a fire, risking the anger of her tense and emotionally wounded father.  We see her surrounded by black smoke in the black and white line drawing; her hand is raised to her mouth in fear.  In the back of the scene stands her father, looking very angry indeed.  Sorensen describes one of the series of miracles; instead of shouting or threatening, he relaxes and empathizes with his daughter’s mistake.  But readers don’t know that until “reading” the picture and then turning the page.

People are imperfect in the Krushes’ world. Although their pictures convey a kind of mid-century cheeriness, old people’s faces are lined, children are fearful, and physiques may be heavy or very thin.

As Mr. Chris, one of the family’s greatest supporters, recovers from an apparent heart attack, Marly solemnly and carefully brings him a cup of maple syrup to see if it meets his standards:

“Mr. Chris reached out and took it from her.  They both moved so carefully one would have thought they carried a magic potion like those in fairy stories – some drink that could  make a person grow suddenly tall or suddenly small, like Alice in Wonderland.  Maybe some magic liquid that would help Mr. Chris not to be sick anymore, but to live forever and ever.”

Miracles-on-Maple-Hill-Mr-Chirs-on-the-mend-650x432

In the picture, Mr. Krush smiles and holds out his hand towards Marly, who is focused not on his face, but on carrying the cup of syrup safely.  A worn pair of boots sits next to the bed until Mr. Chris can use them again. The adults in Marly’s life watch silently, her mother looking rather hopefully towards her father in profile.  The expression of his face is watchful and does not predict the outcome of the scene.

The Krushes have brought their art and their insight into many books for children.  I am glad to have the opportunity to thank Joe Krush for his life’s work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Art Lesson x Two

Books referenced:

The Art Lesson: A Shavuot Story – Allison and Wayne Marks and Annie Wilkinson, Kar-Ben Publishing, 2017

The Art Lesson – Tomie dePaola, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1989

This Sunday and Monday (May 20th and 21st) is the holiday of Shavout, which commemorates the giving of the Torah to the Jewish people. Children’s books about Shavout often focus on the religious importance of this central event in Jewish history, so I was interested to find one that does not. While The Art Lesson does explain the meaning of the holiday, its central theme is the importance of creativity and of traditions within families.  As I began to think about this story, I realized that I just could not write about it without paying tribute to the other Art Lesson, Tomie dePaola’s autobiographical picture book, which is also about creativity and the importance of a family’s support to a child.  The books are not so alike, but they have the same title! Tomie dePaola’s book was a favorite of my own children, and no wonder.  How will Tomie survive school if he is forbidden to use his box of sixty-four Crayola crayons, and only has access to one piece of paper?  How will Shoshana, the heroine of the other Art Lesson, be able to have the confidence to create the magical paper cutouts that are a traditional decoration for Shavout? I recommend reading these books together, but, don’t worry, they work as stand-alone experiences.

shavuot

Shoshana’s grandmother is a beret-wearing artist who keeps her supplies in a kind of cabinet of curiosities and encourages her granddaughter in every way. One way is by affectionately calling her by the name of a great Jewish artist: Chagall, Modigliani, Pissarro. Grandma’s cat is named Krasner, after abstract expressionist painter Lee Krasner, who was married to another great Jewish American artist, Jackson Pollock. At the end of the book Shoshana is herself a grandmother, passing on the family’s artistic tradition to her own granddaughter. If you are now hearing songs from Fiddler on the Roof going through your mind, that’s o.k. There is sentiment in this story, but also a strong push for originality and independence. An afterword gives some minimal information about the holiday, and brief biographies of the artists mentioned. Some of Wilkinson’s pictures mimic the artistic style of these influential painters, but she does not follow this idea consistently throughout the book.

tomie

Tomie dePaola was a gifted child who knew he was different.  Rather than forcing him to color inside the lines, his family encouraged him.  We see pictures of Tomie’s father hanging his artwork in the barbershop where he works, and his mother posting them “all around the house.” It is interesting that in both these pictures we see Tomie’s parents from the back. His father is cutting a customer’s hair and his mother is kneeling and reverently putting up one of her son’s medieval-inspired images.  Other pictures show his grandparents’ faces, and his parents’, as well.  Perhaps the view from the back makes Tomie’s images central to the picture; his parents are so impressed that they themselves stand back and admire.

Continue reading “Art Lesson x Two”