This ambitious project delivers fascinating history and beautiful illustrations but attempts too many creative connections.



In this longer-than-usual picture book, the Swedish alphabet is paired with illustrations of selected objects in the collection of the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis.

The concept is ambitious: to give readers a taste of the Swedish language, culture, and migration story to America by organizing simple Swedish words in alphabetical order (with their English translations but no pronunciation guide) and pairing them with paintings of objects displayed in the Turnblad Mansion, the former residence of 19th-century Swedish immigrants and ASI founders Swan and Christina Turnblad. Following this alphabet section, the book becomes an exploration of history, presenting photos of the previously illustrated objects and relaying stories of their provenance alongside sidebars of the people connected with them. While the watercolor illustrations are gorgeous, masterfully imbuing delicate light and shadow, and the historical information is fascinating, the project bogs down in attempting too many connections. The Swedish word accompanying the object illustration is often not the object’s name (as readers may logically expect) but rather a simple action word (or words) that begins with the necessary alphabet letter. Trying to connect the word and the illustration, small pen-and-ink figures, related “historically or via…imagination” to the object, are drawn on and around the watercolor (and too often in the gutter). It’s a neat concept, but it becomes confusing and, since the figures are cumulative, crowded.

This ambitious project delivers fascinating history and beautiful illustrations but attempts too many creative connections. (authors’ notes) (Informational picture book. 8-12)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5179-0788-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Univ. of Minnesota

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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Playfully arranged multicolored text complements the artwork in this short but enticing introduction to Chagall’s work. Full- color reproductions highlight his best-known work from the start to the finish of his career. Each of the 13 illustrations is accompanied by an engaging biographical anecdote from a key event in Chagall’s life that will spark interest in him as an individual as well as an artist. The book’s creative design makes this highly appropriate for use in art-appreciation lessons at the elementary level. (Biography. 8-11)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1999

ISBN: 3-7913-1986-8

Page Count: 30

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1998

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An attractive fourth entry in Turner's ``Portraits of Women Artists for Children.'' Efficiently, the author uses her large (8 1/2'' x 11'') format to outline the most important themes in Kahlo's life and convey the flavor of her work. The 14 beautifully reproduced paintings are a good sampling of styles and subjects, while the many photos are also well chosen. The heart of Turner's text is her discussion of the paintings; whether realistic or surreal, Kahlo's art is powerfully symbolic, and Turner does a good job of relating the symbols to the life. Among vital influences on Kahlo's work, her Mexican heritage and marriage to Rivera are emphasized; thornier issues—Kahlo and Rivera's tortuous relationship, her political beliefs, her lifelong poor health—are merely touched on. Still, a good introduction to this fascinating painter and woman. Commendably, the sources, media, and dimensions of the paintings are all included in their captions. (Biography. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-316-85651-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1993

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