"CATCHING THE FIRE: Philip Simmons, Blacksmith" by Mary E. Lyons

"CATCHING THE FIRE: Philip Simmons, Blacksmith"

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Vivid details about the life of a hardworking blacksmith artist will inspire readers in this engrossing biography from the author of Painting Dreams (1996), etc. The poor, industrious descendant of a slave, Philip Simmons was captivated by the men who fired up iron and bashed it into form the started to work with Charleston's premier blacksmith at the age of 13 and grew into one of the country's ""national treasures"" of esteemed artists. Simmons went from shoeing horses and fixing wagons, to repairing automobiles and sculpting wrought-iron fences. Now, his elaborate gates and fences decorate the city of Charleston, South Carolina. In nine short chapters told from Simmons's point of view, Lyons shows the arc of Simmons's development, from a dedicated kid with a dream to an accomplished artist. His commitment to his art, and his ability to adapt to changing times despite setbacks, is impressive and heartening, and his attitude--never giving up on the work he loves--resounds. Garcia's full-color photographs show many of Simmons's marvels; the work also includes a good bibliography, but no glossary to help readers more clearly grasp the blacksmithing process. Even without it, readers will come away with respect for hard work combined with creative pursuits, and will surely never look at wrought iron the same way again.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1997
Page count: 48pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin