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Readers will find this portrait of an artist distinctive, useful, and appealing.

Guglielmo seizes on Bisou, Paul Cézanne’s pet parrot, as an entree into the life and work of the artist whom Pablo Picasso acclaimed as the father of 20th-century painting.

Paul Cézanne was a nearly stereotypical struggling artist who abandoned his middle-class roots in Aix-en-Provence to carve out an art career in late-19th-century Paris. Neurotic, more than a bit depressed, and misanthropic, Cézanne was the odd man out among the impressionists. He was stolid and solid; they flew near the sun. Discouraged by his lack of conventional success, he found a sassy studio companion. Bisou was a clever mix of pet and service animal whom he trained to squawk an affirmation: “Cézanne is a great painter!” It worked. Cézanne worked. He became obsessively devoted to modeled tabletop still lifes, portraits, and figures (The Bathers, The Card Players, etc.). He finally exhibited and…he sold. Guglielmo does a good job focusing on the value of artistic persistence, but she relies only on Bisou for a hook, not taking the opportunity to incorporate the very kid-friendly character of Cézanne’s son, Paul (the subject of nine portraits and countless drawings). Helquist contributes oil-on-paper illustrations that approximate Cézanne’s palette and still-life skills, though the figures sometime border on the cartoony. Characters all present white.

Readers will find this portrait of an artist distinctive, useful, and appealing. (author’s note, selected bibliography, source notes, list of paintings) (Picture book/biography. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-51508-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A supplemental rather than introductory book on the great artist.

Frida Kahlo’s strong affection for and identification with animals form the lens through which readers view her life and work in this picture-book biography.

Each two-page spread introduces one or more of her pets, comparing her characteristics to theirs and adding biographical details. Confusingly for young readers, the beginning pages reference pets she owned as an adult, yet the illustrations and events referred to come from earlier in her life. Bonito the parrot perches in a tree overlooking young Frida and her family in her childhood home and pops up again later, just before the first mention of Diego Rivera. Granizo, the fawn, another pet from her adult years, is pictured beside a young Frida and her father along with a description of “her life as a little girl.” The author’s note adds important details about Kahlo’s life and her significance as an artist, as well as recommending specific paintings that feature her beloved animals. Expressive acrylic paintings expertly evoke Kahlo’s style and color palette. While young animal lovers will identify with her attachment to her pets and may enjoy learning about the Aztec origins of her Xolo dogs and the meaning of turkeys in ancient Mexico, the book may be of most interest to those who already have an interest in Kahlo’s life.

A supplemental rather than introductory book on the great artist. (Picture book/biography. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7358-4269-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses.

An NBA star pays tribute to the influence of his grandfather.

In the same vein as his Long Shot (2009), illustrated by Frank Morrison, this latest from Paul prioritizes values and character: “My granddad Papa Chilly had dreams that came true,” he writes, “so maybe if I listen and watch him, / mine will too.” So it is that the wide-eyed Black child in the simply drawn illustrations rises early to get to the playground hoops before anyone else, watches his elder working hard and respecting others, hears him cheering along with the rest of the family from the stands during games, and recalls in a prose afterword that his grandfather wasn’t one to lecture but taught by example. Paul mentions in both the text and the backmatter that Papa Chilly was the first African American to own a service station in North Carolina (his presumed dream) but not that he was killed in a robbery, which has the effect of keeping the overall tone positive and the instructional content one-dimensional. Figures in the pictures are mostly dark-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-81003-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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