Two masters of illustrated, brief biographies for young people reunite (If You Spent a Day with Thoreau at Walden Pond, 2012) for this accessible introduction to an iconic 20th-century American realist.
Their careful, almost developmental approach quickly transcends the provision of objective biographical facts (though they are all there in abundance) by first presenting Hopper’s childhood pencil case—inscribed “Edward Hopper Would be Artist”: five words that summarize a life story. It is evident that Burleigh and Minor are determined that readers both understand and see “the artist’s process of discovery.” Their decision to avoid reproductions of Hopper’s work throughout reflects the essential understanding that Hopper’s own paintings were never exact representations of a specific place at a specific time. Minor helps readers acquire both the sense and the sensibility of a Hopper work via his own charcoal-and-pencil studies of the paintings under consideration in Burleigh’s thoughtful text. In this wonderfully illuminating way, they both help readers comprehend Hopper from the inside out: from the actual motifs, to the edited and combined studies, to the familiar, finished and admired paintings on the museum walls. Backmatter is particularly well-organized and inclusive.
Well-researched and carefully paced, this is an enduring and inspiring book that will help kids to understand the why and the how of an artist at work. (Picture book/biography. 5-9)