Monday, September 08, 2014

Edward Hopper Paints His World by Robert Burleigh

Edward Hopper has always been one of my favorites, with his stark yet warm landscapes and city scenes. When I think of New England houses, I think of Hopper. So I was pleased to pick up this biography of Edward Hopper written for children. Wendell Minor's clean gouache illustrations are a good match for evoking Hopper's world. His illustrations show Hopper as he is imagined working on and (in some cases) entering into places that are featured in his art. We get to see him as a young boy in upstate New York, as a student in New York and Paris and finally, in New England painting those iconic white houses by the sea. While the book doesn't go into great depth regarding his technique or professional experiences, it does give the reader a good overall view. Hopper is shown as a bit of a loner who wanted to express his outlook in the landscapes he painted. It also shows children that Hopper's path took some courage in that he didn't achieve recognition for many years. For further reading, children can use the reference page in the back of the book.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Dare the Wind by Tracey Fern

Dare the Wind is a picture book biography about Ellen Prentiss Creesy, a 19th c.female sailor and navigator. I picked this book up to see the illustrations by Emily Arnold McCully and to have my daughters read an inspiring biography. I didn't realize that Ellen Prentiss Creesy was from my hometown of Marblehead. Dare the Wind is an inspiring tale of a woman who learned to navigate from her sea captain father. After marriage to Perkins Creesy, she was the navigator on their clipper ship, the Flying Cloud. They made many voyages around Cape Horn to deliver goods and passengers to San Francisco. In the process, Ellen's ship set the world record of eighty-nine days. Her legacy lasted for years, until the advent of the steam ship.
This is a relatively easy read for the 4-8 crowd, with lovely watercolor illustrations that depict a slice of history that's not known to many. In the back is an Author's Note for older children and parents who may want to know more about Ellen Prentiss Creesy and clipper ships in general.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Magritte's Marvelous Hat by D.B. Johnson

This is a fun adventure with the French artist Rene Magritte, pictured as a dog by D.B. Johnson. Rene finds a magic hat which floats above his head and enables him to paint surreal paintings. The hat floats out the window and Rene's search for the magic hat begins. In several places D.B. Johnson uses clear plastic overlays to add to the surreal effect. Though not a true biography, this book introduces surrealism and Magritte's style to kids through the artwork. There's also a short biography in the back of the book if more information is needed.

The Noisy Paint Box by Barb Rosenstock

This book is a fictionalized biography of Wassily Kandinsky, the Russian abstract artist. Wassily received a painting kit when he was young and as he painted, began to hear the colors translated into sounds (a condition known as synesthesia). "The Noisy Paint Box" introduces children to the idea that art doesn't have to be representational (eg. a tree is a tree), but can be a celebration of form, line and color. It took Wassily years after being a lawyer and studying traditional art to reach his full expression as an abstract artist. Though not a strict biography, "The Noisy Paint Box" touches upon the importance art plays in one's life and provides some background information on Kandinsky at the end of the book.The illustrator Mary Grandpre (of the Harry Potter books) does a wonderful job of capturing what synesthesia must seem like to those with the condition or "gift".

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Thomas Jefferson: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Everything by Maira Kalman

Ms. Kalman dives into the biography of Thomas Jefferson with her very colorful and quirky gouache paintings. Her focus isn't on the facts of his life (though some are mentioned and there's a notes section in the back if you want to know more). She paints a full picture of Jefferson through his peculiarities and passions: his love of learning, music, gardening and his estate, Monticello. Also mentioned is Jefferson's inconsistency over slavery and his relationship with Sally Hemmings, told with honesty but not overdone. 
This is a fun biography, with colorful pictures, interesting typography and a focus on Jefferson the man.
Maira also has another biography about Lincoln ("Looking at Lincoln") which I'm sure is as fun a read for kids.

Friday, November 16, 2012

What to Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid's Guide to Overcoming Anxiety

This is the interactive go to resource for educating, motivating, and empowering kids to overcome their overgrown worries.  If you are the parent or caregiver of an anxious child, you know what it feels like to be held hostage.  Children who worry too much are held captive by their fears and go to great lengths to avoid frightening situations. Simply telling an anxious child to stop worrying doesn’t work, nor does applying adult logic.  What to Do When You Worry Too Much, will teach you and your child a new and more successful way to think about and manage anxiety. The techniques described in this book will help your child take control. This book is great!  -Aurora

TIME for Kids BIG Book of Why: 1,001 Facts Kids Want to Know

  TIME for Kids BIG Book of Why: 1,001 Facts Kids Want to Know, by the editors of TIME for KIDS magazine is a good book for kids of all ages!  This is a must -have book to satisfy the most curious of kids and provokes a great way to encourage interest and knowledge about a wide range of subjects, as well as to stimulate reading. The book is divided by subject area - humans, animals, environment/nature, technology, and space. - It is written in an upbeat manner and each answer is accompanied by either a photo or an illustration.   Great for sharing time for adult and child!  -Aurora


TIME For Kids Big Book of How 

TIME for Kids Big Book of What

TIME For Kids Big Book of Science Experiments: A step-by-step guide