Visually busy and humming with ego, but Muniz’s art is splendid.

JELLY, GARBAGE + TOYS

MAKING PICTURES WITH VIK MUNIZ

Kids see how one artist creates with unorthodox media.

Narrating in first person, acclaimed artist Muniz, a white Brazilian-American, showcases his techniques, unconventional materials, and finished work. Some is original imagery: a cotton sculpture resembling a cloud. Much is fascinating homage: an eye-popping re-creation, in chocolate syrup, of Hans Namuth’s photograph of Jackson Pollock at work; a tender re-creation, in confetti, of Paul Cézanne’s Still Life with Apples; a spiky re-creation, in toy soldiers, of a photo of a 14-year-old Civil War soldier. Liftable flaps playfully reveal the classic artwork he’s re-creating or Muniz’s own piece in a second scale. The original art Muniz re-creates often gets short shrift visually. Instead, bromidic assertions and a surfeit of autobiography congest the pages in large speech bubbles. Humility is in short supply. Muniz’s Double Mona Lisa, one peanut butter, one jelly, is truly fabulous, but, shadily, only the footnote and backmatter—not the primary text—credit Andy Warhol with having done a Double Mona Lisa first. The text portrays Muniz as a slight savior figure to black and brown people; he sounds content to use their lives for career fodder, as when he renders portraits of black Saint Kitts children in sugar to contrast them with their “very bitter” parents who work on sugarcane plantations.

Visually busy and humming with ego, but Muniz’s art is splendid. (timeline, resources, glossary, list of illustrations, index) (Nonfiction. 6-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2575-3

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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An inspirational look at one girl’s quest to make sure that all skin tones are visible and available in the classroom.

MORE THAN PEACH

A Black girl’s simple observation propels her into activism.

Woodard, who launched the More Than Peach Project—which arranges for classrooms and children in need to receive kits that include art supplies and boxes of multicultural crayons (crayons in a variety of skin tones)—relates the incident that sparked her journey. As the book begins, she is dropped off at school and notices that her family’s skin tone differs from that of her classmates. While it is clear that she is one of a few children of color at school, that difference isn’t really felt until her friends start asking for the “skin-color” crayon when they mean peach. She’s bothered that no one else seems to notice that skin comes in many colors, so she devises a unique way of bringing everyone’s attention to that fact. With support from her family and her school, she encourages her fellow classmates to rethink their language and starts an initiative to ensure that everyone’s skin tone is represented in each crayon box. Appealing, realistic artwork depicts Woodard’s experiences, while endpapers feature More Than Peach crayon boxes and childlike illustrations of kids of different ethnicities doing various activities. The story is stirring and will motivate budding activists. (This book was reviewed digitally; the review has been updated for factual accuracy.)

An inspirational look at one girl’s quest to make sure that all skin tones are visible and available in the classroom. (note from Woodard, information on Woodard’s journey into activism, instructions on starting a drive) (Picture-book biography. 6-10)

Pub Date: July 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-80927-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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A lovely encouragement to young writers to persist.

HOW TO WRITE A STORY

This follow-up to How To Read a Story (2005) shows a child going through the steps of creating a story, from choosing an idea through sharing with friends.

A young black child lies in a grassy field writing in a journal, working on “Step 1 / Search for an Idea— / a shiny one.” During a walk to the library, various ideas float in colorful thought bubbles, with exclamation points: “playing soccer! / dogs!” Inside the library, less-distinct ideas, expressed as shapes and pictures, with question marks, float about as the writer collects ideas to choose from. The young writer must then choose a setting, a main character, and a problem for that protagonist. Plotting, writing with detail, and revising are described in child-friendly terms and shown visually, in the form of lists and notes on faux pieces of paper. Finally, the writer sits in the same field, in a new season, sharing the story with friends. The illustrations feature the child’s writing and drawing as well as images of imagined events from the book in progress bursting off the page. The child’s main character is an adventurous mermaid who looks just like the child, complete with afro-puff pigtails, representing an affirming message about writing oneself into the world. The child’s family, depicted as black, moves in the background of the setting, which is also populated by a multiracial cast.

A lovely encouragement to young writers to persist. (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-5666-8

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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