An irresistible introduction to the world of fine art for kids 5 and up.

Intrigued by an art print in her childhood bedroom, a young Dixon (I Love Being a Girl, 2014, etc.) spent hours wondering about the stories behind the pictures: “My curiosity was piqued, not only about the little girl that Renoir painted, but by the creative process.” Encouraging her young readers “to dream and to marvel and to appreciate not only the act of creativity but a new way of seeing the world,” Dixon presents 30 painters and engaging samples of their work. With artists arranged in birth order, the format—the artist’s biographical information and portrait with a short essay appear on a single page, followed by three paintings identified by title, date, size and current location—works well to present a range, from the old masters (da Vinci leads off, followed by Titian and Rembrandt) through modern artists (Munch, Modigliani and Klee) and with less familiar names along the way (Corot, Alman-Tadema, Czech artist Mucha). The high-quality illustrations are interesting and varied. Along with the anticipated Mona Lisa and Girl with a Pearl Earring are less commonly viewed gems, almost all celebrating the feminine, although the occasional boy or still life can be found. The art selections alone are noteworthy, but the essays bring the book to life; brief but intriguing, each offers personal detail, definition, and odd and humanizing details. For example, the rule breaker Courbet used big canvases for painting common lives, and Manet painted a few strokes on a Morisot work without her permission. Most of the essays pose straightforward questions or refer to other artists in the book and encourage readers to see the relationships among painters, paintings and audience. But there is nothing dry about this presentation—young readers are encouraged to wonder about and just plain enjoy the works. Minor discrepancies (a Gonzales piece is referred to as both Nanny and Baby and Nanny and Child) do not detract.

An engaging, interactive guide to museum-quality visual art.

Pub Date: May 19, 2014

ISBN: 978-1627320139

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Bellagio Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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A dazzling visual homage to a music icon gone too soon.


A Los Angeles–based photographer pays tribute to a legendary musician with anecdotes and previously unseen images collected from their 25-year collaboration.

St. Nicholas (co-author: Whitney: Tribute to an Icon, 2012, etc.) first met Prince in 1991 at a prearranged photo shoot. “The dance between photographer and subject carried us away into hours of inspired photographs…and the beginning of a friendship that would last a lifetime.” In this book, the author fondly remembers their many professional encounters in the 25 years that followed. Many would be portrait sessions but done on impulse, like those in a burned-out Los Angeles building in 1994 and on the Charles Bridge in Prague in 2007. Both times, the author and Prince came together through serendipity to create playfully expressive images that came to represent the singer’s “unorthodox ability to truly live life in the moment.” Other encounters took place while Prince was performing at Paisley Park, his Minneapolis studio, or at venues in LA, New York, Tokyo, and London. One in particular came about after the 1991 release of Prince’s Diamonds and Pearls album and led to the start of St. Nicholas’ career as a video director. Prince, who nurtured young artists throughout his career, pushed the author to “trust my instincts…expand myself creatively.” What is most striking about even the most intimate of these photographs—even those shot with Mayte Garcia, the fan-turned–backup dancer who became Prince’s wife in 1996—is the brilliantly theatrical quality of the images. As the author observes, the singer was never not the self-conscious artist: “Prince was Prince 24/7.” Nostalgic and reverential, this book—the second St. Nicholas produced with/for Prince—is a celebration of friendship and artistry. Prince fans are sure to appreciate the book, and those interested in art photography will also find the collection highly appealing.

A dazzling visual homage to a music icon gone too soon.

Pub Date: Nov. 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-293923-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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A sumptuous, nostalgic ode to a disappearing landscape


An oversized album compiled in response to the recent omission by the Oxford Junior Dictionary of many natural-science words, including several common European bird, plant, and animal species, in favor of more current technological terms.

In his introduction, Macfarlane laments this loss, announcing his intention to create “a spellbook for conjuring back these lost words.” Each lost word is afforded three double-page spreads. First, the letters of each lost word are sprinkled randomly among other letters and an impressionistic sketch in a visual puzzle. This is followed by an acrostic poem or riddle describing essential qualities of the object, accompanied by a close-up view. A two-page spread depicting the object in context follows. Morris’ strong, dynamic watercolors are a pleasure to look at, accurate in every detail, vibrant and full of life. The book is beautifully produced and executed, but anyone looking for definitions of the “lost words” will be disappointed. The acrostic poems are subjective, sophisticated impressions of the birds and animals depicted, redolent with alliteration and wordplay, perhaps more appropriate for creative writing prompts than for science exploration. This book is firmly rooted in the English countryside, celebrating such words as “conker,” “bramble,” and “starling” (invasive in North America), but many will cross over for North American readers. A free “Explorer’s Guide” is available online.

A sumptuous, nostalgic ode to a disappearing landscape . (Picture book/poetry. 10-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4870-0538-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Anansi Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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