Using his love of art to honor his grandmother, a boy fumbles with his first plan but succeeds with his second.
Weekly art class at a museum (clearly the Metropolitan Museum of Art) is exciting. The teacher’s assertion that “anything can be in an art exhibition”—toys, hair clips, water bottles—is followed by a brainstorming session among the kids of art’s traits. Is it beautiful, funny or unique? Does it come from afar or make people “feel good”? This inspires an unusual idea. The protagonist’s grandmother possesses all those traits, so “I should give Grandma to the museum!” This odd inspiration doesn’t quite make sense: The boy’s too fond of his grandma to want her gone and too old to genuinely think humans are donate-able, but it doesn’t read like a joke. Luckily, the museum nixes it, and the boy moves on. He creates an entire mixed-media art exhibit under his own steam, each piece a portrayal of Grandma in a different artistic style. Bliss uses pen, ink and watercolor to mix affectionate figure drawings and re-creations of famous artwork with speech bubbles and faces straight from the comics (including some eyebrows that don’t quite fit). Though lacking the visceral joie de vivre of Angela Johnson and E.B. Lewis’ Lily Brown’s Paintings (2007), this helps fill a critical need for art-loving black child characters.
A good bridge to take children from comic tropes to fine art. (Picture book. 4-8)