A small, sturdy, shapely evocation of the artist's calling, prefaced by a quotation from Pisarro—"Only painting counts"—and featuring a white-bearded, straw-hatted Pissarro-like painter. "An artist is like God, but small," it begins. "He can't see out of God's creation,/ for it includes him./ With the seas divided,/ all the animals named,/ and the sun and moon and stars/ set in their tracks,/ an artist spends his life/ not only wondering, but wanting to work like God/ with what he can command: his paints." So: "He tries to copy God's creations." And on his easel we see a landscape. "He tries to shape beauty with his hand." A long-curving stroke of the brush. "He tries to make order out of nature." A geometric abstract. "He tries to paint the thoughts and feelings in his mind." Freeforms. Then, the reprise: "An artist is like God/ as God created him./ Small, strong, and with limited days,/ his gift of breath is spent/ over his paintbox./ Choosing and brushing his colors,/ he tries to make paint sing." In its entirety, this may indeed speak more volumes to adults than to children; but excepting only a few phrases near the end ("and with limited days, his gift of breath is spent"), the text is graphic, the imagery plain. And the illustrations—tiny, almost-childlike watercolors into which the palpable figure of the painter is set, a painter within paintings—have an immediate appeal and the resonance of some of Goffstein's best work. It's special, maybe, but it's not forced.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1980

ISBN: 0060220120

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1980

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A festive invitation to creative liberation.


A pleasingly tactile exploration of the possibilities inherent in mistakes.

"A torn piece of paper... / is just the beginning!" Spills, folded paper, drips of paint, smudges and smears—they "all can make magic appear." An increasingly complex series of scenarios celebrates random accidents, encouraging artistic experimentation rather than discouragement. The folded-over paper can be a penguin's head; a torn piece of newsprint can turn into a smiling dog with a little application of paint; a hot-chocolate stain can become a bog for a frog. Thanks to a telescoping pop-up, a hole is filled with nearly limitless possibilities. The interactive elements work beautifully with the photo-collaged "mistakes," never overwhelming the intent with showiness. Saltzberg's trademark cartoon animals provide a sweetly childlike counterpoint to the artful scribbles and smears of gloppy paint.

A festive invitation to creative liberation. (Pop-up. 4-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-7611-5728-1

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Workman

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2010

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From the artist who created last year's shoutingly vivid Growing Vegetable Soup, a companion volume about raising a flower garden. "Mom and I" plant bulbs (even rhizomes), choose seeds, buy seedlings, and altogether grow about 20 species. Unlike the vegetables, whose juxtaposed colors were almost painfully bright, the flowers make a splendidly gaudy array, first taken together and then interestingly grouped by color—the pages vary in size here so that colored strips down the right-hand side combine to make a broad rainbow. Bold, stylish, and indubitably inspired by real flowers, there is still (as with its predecessor) a link missing between these illustrations with their large, solid areas of color and the real experience of a garden. The stylized forms are almost more abstractions than representations (and why is the daisy yellow?). There is also little sense of the relative times for growing and blooming—everything seems to come almost at once. Perhaps the trouble is that Ehlert has captured all the color of the garden, but not its subtle gradations or the light, the space, the air, and the continual movement and change.

Pub Date: March 21, 1988

ISBN: 0152063048

Page Count: 66

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: April 24, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1988

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