A picture book aimed at older readers, this fictitious biography of Giotto explains how such an artistically inclined child might have been discovered and mentored. In the Middle Ages there was neither the choice of media nor the sense of permanence associated with art today. Lacking other materials, the boy Giotto probably drew in sand, or on stones with charcoal. His father ignores his talent, wanting his son to help herd the family sheep. He forbids his son to attend a religious ceremony, but from the window the boy spies a wonderful painting carried in the procession. He finds out who created it, and manages to meet the older painter, Cimabue, who gives him colors to work with. After spending a day drawing instead of herding sheep, Giotto hides from his father, whom he expects to be very angry. Instead, his father and Cimabue arrive, and are surprised by his talent. The older artist convinces Giotto’s father to let the boy come study as an apprentice, and it isn’t long before the apprentice surpasses the master. This moving tale will ring true for any child struggling for recognition, both in the world of the arts, and in the world of adults. Landmann’s illustrations make this book especially meaningful: they capture the essence of Giotto’s work without copying him, and there’s both a Byzantine and a modern look to her birds (they are almost all eyes), and the almond-eyed characters that inhabit this elegant story. (Picture book. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 1999

ISBN: 0-374-30931-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1999

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This vibrant, thoughtful book from Katz (Over the Moon, 1997) continues her tribute to her adopted daughter, Lena, born in Guatemala. Lena is “seven. I am the color of cinnamon. Mom says she could eat me up”; she learns during a painting lesson that to get the color brown, she will have to “mix red, yellow, black, and white paints.” They go for a walk to observe the many shades of brown: they see Sonia, who is the color of creamy peanut butter; Isabella, who is chocolate brown; Lucy, both peachy and tan; Jo-Jin, the color of honey; Kyle, “like leaves in fall”; Mr. Pellegrino, the color of pizza crust, golden brown. Lena realizes that every shade is beautiful, then mixes her paints accordingly for portraits of her friends—“The colors of us!” Bold illustrations celebrate diversity with a child’s open-hearted sensibility and a mother’s love. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8050-5864-8

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1999

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Florian’s seventh collection of verse is also his most uneven; though the flair for clever rhyme that consistently lights up his other books, beginning with Monster Motel (1993), occasionally shows itself—“Hello, my name is Dracula/My clothing is all blackula./I drive a Cadillacula./I am a maniacula”—too many of the entries are routine limericks, putdowns, character portraits, rhymed lists that fall flat on the ear, or quick quips: “It’s hard to be anonymous/When you’re a hippopotamus.” Florian’s language and simple, thick-lined cartoons illustrations are equally ingenuous, and he sticks to tried-and-true subjects, from dinosaurs to school lunch, but the well of inspiration seems dry; revisit his hilarious Bing Bang Boing (1994) instead. (index) (Poetry. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-15-202084-5

Page Count: 158

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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