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MAGIC TRASH by J.H.  Shapiro


A Story of Tyree Guyton and His Art

by J.H. Shapiro & illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-58089-385-5
Publisher: Charlesbridge

Multi-colored, multi-layered, multi-media illustrations trace the life of Tyree Guyton and his visionary artwork, which used reclaimed trash to turn a derelict Detroit street into community-activist art.

Tyree’s magic—his ability to find whimsy, brightness and joy in junk—make him both an endearing and an unusual person to young readers fixated on shiny products hermetically sealed in plastic. Buttons, Popsicle sticks, crayons, broken wheels and bottle caps bounce around pages, conjuring Tyree’s excitement as he makes his own funky toys as a child and, later, trash artwork as an adult. Warm, comedic renderings of neighbors and family (particularly Grandpa Sam), offset somewhat jarring multi-media elements: creepy, dirty stuffed animals, slapdash patches of newsprint, random-feeling rounds of fabric. But when Tyree’s childhood street becomes his art, these compositional choices make more sense. On Heidelberg Street, neon vacuum cleaners line lawns, houses pulsate with polka-dots and doll-babies hang from telephone wires, bringing a similar discomfort and disorientation—and making shady characters flee. When a judge stops bulldozers from destroying Heidelberg Street, declaring it a work of art, a victory dance seems in order. Readers whiz through Tyree’s story, propelled by his energy and zinging, trippy triplets that cap each significant event in his life. "Let rockets fly! / Boards tower high. / Bounce, jump and dance, magic trash!"

An inspiring, exciting introduction to avant-garde art and social commentary, this biography convinces young readers that art can exist, thrive and effect change outside in the real world. (author’s note, bibliography) (Picture book. 5-10)