Artist Keith Haring draws and draws, from childhood to adulthood.
“There was a boy named Keith,” opens the text, showing him drawn with an orange outline, crawling, surrounded by the gleam lines that Haring later used around his famous Radiant Baby. As Haring grows to adulthood and renown, drawing constantly, Neubecker neatly incorporates Haring’s real pieces into these zesty, bustling, digital-and-pencil illustrations. From subway-station drawings chalked on black paper to acrylic paintings to murals, Haring’s work pops; Neubecker’s compositions and enthusiastic crowd scenes do it wonderful credit. The textual refrain (subtly offset in its own typeface) is that Haring never stops drawing—a passable theme, barely, but one that glaringly spotlights the themes that are missing. In a stunning erasure, author Haring (Keith’s sister) includes only non–AIDS-related art, activism, and philanthropy. Haring’s famous Silence=Death pieces (pink triangles crowded with bodies) and his absolutely iconic “Ignorance=Fear” poster—both of which complemented the work of pivotal AIDS activist group ACT UP—are nowhere to be found. The foundation he created to benefit underserved youth and AIDS organizations gets no mention until the second of two backmatter notes. Very young readers are better served by any of several available Keith Haring coloring books or board books; older readers deserve to know all his vital artistic, activist, and philanthropic achievements, including the ones related to AIDS.
This sanitized treatment does a disservice to both subject and readers. (author’s note, index of art works) (Picture book/biography. 4-8)