FIRST PAINTER by Kathryn Lasky
Kirkus Star


by illustrated by &
Age Range: 7 - 12
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What moves people to make art? Lasky (Lucille’s Snowsuit, see below) answers that question with a brilliantly imagined story of the daughter of a shaman 30,000 years ago. Mishoo and her clan have not seen rain in so long that the grass has dried up and the animals have moved on. Mishoo’s now-dead mother was a dream catcher and visits Mishoo’s dreams, urging her to the cave of the she-tiger. Mishoo is afraid, but her sister’s thin arms spur her to take her mother’s spirit bundle and go. She crawls into the hidden cave, lights a fire, and sees in the shadows and the rock—something. Mishoo takes up a stick and outlines on the rock what she sees in her mind: first a galloping horse, then a rhinoceros, a bison, the she-tiger herself. For three days she paints with the earth colors in her spirit bundle, and at last she places her paint-covered hand on the wall, marking her work. When she emerges from the cave, she finds that the rain has indeed come. Baviera’s images are very powerful. He has used the natural pigments and bear fat available to that first painter as well as constructing Mishoo’s clothing out of skins and fur and her tools from bone. The palette is rich in earth tones and firelight, and the figures have an iconic expressiveness deeply suited to the text. An author’s note lists bibliography and research. This title creates for children an accessible truth—that art has a magic, that art holds immense human meaning, and that the artist makes things happen inside the human soul. (afterword, bibliography) (Picture book. 7-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-7894-2578-5
Page count: 40pp
Publisher: DK Publishing
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2000


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