THE BOY WHO LOVED TO DRAW

BENJAMIN WEST

A folk-art quality infuses Dunrea’s clean-lined and pleasing gouache illustrations for this highly appealing biography from Brenner (The Earth is Painted Green, 1994, etc.) on the childhood of America’s first world-famous artist, Benjamin West. Later in life, West would enjoy the patronage of King George III and friendships with men such as Benjamin Franklin, but the boy growing up on a Pennsylvania farm in the tag end of a family of ten showed few signs of what he would become. Three chapters relate pivotal moments in West’s boyhood; in the first, Benjamin is given the duty of rocking the cradle and flapping the flies away from a baby, but is seized by an intense desire to draw the child instead, resulting in an astonishingly recognizable drawing. A nicely executed section, “And Then What Happened?” collapses the rest of an illustrious career into two spreads, one of which provides some of the artist’s paintings, including his first, Landscape with Cow. A concluding spread simply and briefly provides bibliographic data. The glimpses of the artist’s development in this handsome book provides may be apocryphal autobiography from West himself (Brenner bases her incidents on his account of his childhood), but the charm and innocence of his delinquencies will attract readers. (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-395-85080-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1999

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THE COLORS OF US

This vibrant, thoughtful book from Katz (Over the Moon, 1997) continues her tribute to her adopted daughter, Lena, born in Guatemala. Lena is “seven. I am the color of cinnamon. Mom says she could eat me up”; she learns during a painting lesson that to get the color brown, she will have to “mix red, yellow, black, and white paints.” They go for a walk to observe the many shades of brown: they see Sonia, who is the color of creamy peanut butter; Isabella, who is chocolate brown; Lucy, both peachy and tan; Jo-Jin, the color of honey; Kyle, “like leaves in fall”; Mr. Pellegrino, the color of pizza crust, golden brown. Lena realizes that every shade is beautiful, then mixes her paints accordingly for portraits of her friends—“The colors of us!” Bold illustrations celebrate diversity with a child’s open-hearted sensibility and a mother’s love. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8050-5864-8

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1999

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THERE'S A WARDROBE IN MY MONSTER!

Small, saucy Martha is not a child to put in pink. She wears black-and-white, highly graphic dresses, including one long-sleeved number with a bull’s-eye on the belly. She has mastered the management of her boring goldfish, somnolent cat, and clueless dog, and she opines that it is high time to acquire a large, ugly monster. Forthwith, she marches out with her piggy-bank. The nearest pet shop stocks only small monsters, but one green fellow has an pleasingly awful grin. It’s a done deal: “Keep the pig,” Martha says as she exits with her purchase. Martha knows that the monster eats only wood, but she doesn’t know that twigs will be followed by branches, planks from the dog’s dismantled kennel, her bed legs, and her bottom drawer. As the monster grows, so does its appetite, until the only place left to put it is in the wardrobe—which it promptly eats. Enough is enough for Martha, but the pet shop man offers only exchanges; against his advice, Martha selects an egg with green and purple splotches. As the original monster gets pushed out the back door, readers will delight in the dreadful possibilities inherent in this twist. It’s a romp of a tale to read aloud, with a tongue-in-cheek text; the vigorous pictures more than support and extend this illustrious excursion into the consequences of pet ownership. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 1999

ISBN: 1-57505-414-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Lerner

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1999

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