A girl adjusts to her parents’ divorce with the help of Pablo Picasso’s artwork.
In school, Emily’s learning how Picasso’s cubist portrayals “mix things up,” scooting a nose sideways or stacking eyes over eyes. This notion touches her, as her family feels mixed up too: “Emily’s dad is no longer where he belongs. Suddenly, he lives in his own little cube.” An aerial map shows Emily’s gridlike neighborhood, her father’s new building—pale blue—two blocks from the family house. At a furniture store, Emily sees the furniture as blue and blue-green cubes and refuses to help Dad choose any. She won’t use black charcoal; like Picasso when he was sad, she hews to blue. Despite cuddles from Mom, “Emily’s Blue Period lasts quite some time.” A school assignment chafes: How can she make a collage of her house when she has two? Gathering objects from both, she figures it out, but textual pacing frustrates somewhat: Her completed “big and soggy and beautiful” chef-d’oeuvre is described in words for eight pages before it’s shown, implying that her piece’s concept outweighs its artistic value rather than complementing it. However, Brown’s soothing, blue-focused watercolors with pencil lines and digitally collaged highlights provide an accessible visual link to Picasso. One out-of-place joke about Picasso’s full Spanish name rankles.
A worthwhile, idiosyncratic demonstration of a specific artist’s relevance to a young child. (Picture book. 4-7)