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The Art Lesson

4.21  ·  Rating Details ·  3,164 Ratings  ·  147 Reviews
Tommy knows he wants to be an artist when he grows up. He can't wait to get to school and have real art lessons. When Tommy gets to school and finds out that the art lessons are full of "rules", he is surprised and dismayed. How the wise art teacher finds a way to give Tommy the freedom to create and stay within the "rules" makes a wonderfully perceptive picture book about ...more
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published March 15th 1989 by GP Putnam And Sons (first published January 1st 1989)
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Dec 17, 2009 Heather rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens
Welcome to "Heather over-analyzes a children's book yet again!"

I got this book at the library because I thought Margaret would like it. She's in a coloring phase and thought it would go well with that.

The story started off nice enough. His parents and family are supportive of his desire to do art. When Tomie gets to kindergarten, he finds the quality of the art supplies disheartening. It was a nice reminder: it's probably better that my kids have a few good art supplies than a lot of crappy ones
Jun 14, 2008 Janelle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: budding artist, fans of Tomie dePaola
Recommended to Janelle by: LeVar Burton
Tomie dePaola is one of my favorite children's author/illustrators. I love that this book is about how he became an artist.

It also discussed how other children have other hobbies and interests and talents, and how one finds a balance between conformity/following rules, and individuality. The main focus is on how Tommy (Tomie) develops and shares his talents with the world (including through this book)

I especially loved the reference to the 64 box of Crayola crayons because everyone knows the Cr
Lorraine Ryan
A cute little book that teaches children to do what they are passionate about and to never give on their dreams. I loved this book because it showed a child growing up and doing what he always wanted to do, draw. ‘Tommy’, is passionate about drawing and has always been encouraged by his family in creating wonderful pictures. He loved to draw his own pictures however when he started art lessons in school, this wasn’t always the case. He found his teacher dictated him into drawing what she wanted ...more
Lisa Vegan
This is a short autobiographical work about the artist author, and about how even as a boy he was an artist. It did bring me back to how I valued those boxes of Crayola 64 colors of crayons. (When I was a bit older and found boxes with an even bigger color selection of crayons, I was in art heaven.) I was a bit bothered by the form of the resolution this story had re the boy’s “permission” to be a the artist he was as a first grader, although Tomie dePaola certainly did ok with his background, s ...more
Feb 19, 2008 Luann rated it really liked it
My college professor read this to us in my "Art of the Picture Book" class. It is another great story from the life of Tomie de Paola. He knows he wants to be an artist when he grows up, so he draws pictures everywhere - once even on his sheets until his mom finds out. When he gets to school, he is excited to have art lessons with a real art teacher, but then finds out he is required to use school crayons, use only one sheet of paper, and COPY what the teacher draws for them. He does work out a ...more
Savannah Schneider
This is another book I read to my little sister. She didn't seem to be interested in it much, and I found it incredibly boring. There was a lot of big words that I could barely even read so I don't think children will really understand it unless you substitute them with different words. I think it'd be more for a younger boy than a girl. It was about how the author came to be an artist. I would recommend it to young boys that are interested in art.
Season Neal
Jan 19, 2012 Season Neal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
What I believe to be Tomie dePaola's life story. A young Tomie dePaola is excited to begin school because of art class. Yet, when his dreams of art class are destroyed by a teacher who doesn't let the students be creative, the little boy doesn't let this bring him down. This is a cute story that students love and helps teach perseverance and believing in yourself.
Melissa Kearney
Dec 02, 2016 Melissa Kearney rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Title: The Art Lesson
Author: Tomie dePaola
Genre: Biography
Theme(s): art, individuality, artists
Opening line/sentence:
Tommy knew he wanted to be an artist when he grew up.

Brief Book Summary:
A little boy, Tommy, is entering kindergarten and is upset that he doesn’t get to have art lessons until first grade, so he receives art advice from his aunts who are in art school to practice his art and do not copy. When Tommy enters first grade and is able to meet the art teacher, he gets upset because
Becky B
A somewhat fictionalized autobiographical tale of little Tommy, who knew at a young age he wanted to be an artist. He takes to heart advice from his older artist cousins that real artists don't copy, he draws and draws, but when he's finally old enough to take art lessons in school...he finds things a bit disappointing. Is there any hope?

A little peek into what Tommy was like as a young, budding artist. Typical dePaola in style both word-wise and art-wise. The book makes some rather pointed comm
Jordan Caton
The Art Lesson is a story about a boy, named Tommy, who inspires to be an artist when he gets older. He loves to draw and does so all the time for his family to hang up and look at. He learned from his sisters who are artists as well, that he should never copy work from others, but be creative and make his own drawings. When he gets to school he gets let down multiple times. First, they are doing paintings. "If it was windy when Tommy carried his picture home, the paint blew right off the paper. ...more
Sep 26, 2011 Nicole rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tomie dePaola, the prolific author and illustrator, of more than 250 picture books has created a unique blend of fiction and autobiography in The Art Lesson. Similar to Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs, this book resonates with its reader. My five year old daughter, who happens to “want to be an artist when she grows up”, absolutely adored this book. It has found a permanent home on her bookshelves and I believe inspired her.

The Art Lesson tells the story of a young Tomie dePaola and his passio
Audra Sein
Sep 17, 2013 Audra Sein rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Art Lesson is a story about a little boy name Tommy who wants to be an artist more than anything else. His efforts at learning to be a real artist are constantly being thwarted until he meets Mrs. Bowers, his first grade art teacher.

As I read this book, there were several things that I noticed about the illustrations. The colors that Tomie dePaola uses for the illustrations in this book are very warm and inviting. This fits with the tone of the story extremely well. Since the little boy in t
Susan Soohoo
Dec 06, 2016 Susan Soohoo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My Review:
1. This book has not be given any awards
2. This book is appropriate for grades k-2.
3. This book as about a boy named Tommy who has a great love for drawing. He draws everything and everywhere. At school, he feels like he's not being challenged in terms of his artistic ability but in 1st grade, when the art teacher comes in, things start to get a little more interesting. In the end, Tommy was able to use his box of 64 Crayola crayons and continued to develop his love for art.
4. I enjoy
Lindsay Larsen
Sep 15, 2013 Lindsay Larsen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was appealing to me because of the picture on the front. The little boy is intriguing and the illustrations seem simplistic but detailed.

This story is for a fifth grade teacher and an art teacher. It refers to the story (about receiving more than one piece of paper). From the cover and border, I felt as if the boy on the front might be the one giving the art lesson. The boy is looking forward, with paper and crayon in hand. It looks as if he has more crayons, paint, paintbrushes and a
Rachel Keller
Mar 08, 2015 Rachel Keller rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a fantastic book! Tomie dePaola can do no wrong in my opinion. In the story, Tommy is a budding artist who cannot wait until his art lesson in first grade. The voice of the character is so child-like and really puts the reader inside of Tommy's thoughts and feelings. The moment when Tommy finds out he will not get his lesson until first grade really resonated with me. It is so hard to wait for things we are looking forward too, especially when we can't control them! This is such a good illu ...more
The picture story book THE ART LESSON, is written and illustrated by Tomie de Paola. It is a nice story of a boy, Tommy, which loves drawing, he spends all the day drawing, and he want to have a art lesson in the school. But when the art lesson start he realized that he have to copy what the teacher draw and hr dont like this, because he want to b a real artist. But in the end come to term with the art teacher and he draw what he wants too.

The text and the pictures are equal, both of them are ne
Amazon Book Description:
A boy named Tommy loves to draw with his Binney & Smith Crayola crayons, and these pictures hang on his side of the room, in his mother's kitchen, at the barber shop where his father works, in the store of his Irish grandparents and in the home of his Italian grandmother Nana. Tommy? Nana?

This work of picture-book fiction is really a gem of an autobiography, and readers familiar with dePaola's work will find wonderful, well-placed clues to his lifetime of artistry a
Todd Burleson
Nov 13, 2012 Todd Burleson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of my two books written by Tommy dePaola for my author study:

This gentle book tells the early story of the world famous artist and author Tommy dePaola.

The illustrations in the story are very similar to others in Tommy's books. His characters are slightly cartoonish, yet the characters, especially in this story, maintain their ethnic characteristics. The soft color palette and gentle pencil and colored pencil illustrations seem to capture Tommy's gentle, but driven personality.

Gloria Barbee
Sep 15, 2013 Gloria Barbee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Art Lesson by Tomie dePaola is a delightfully told story with brightly colored illustrations. It depicts dePaola's love of art and his life long desire to be an artist. The images show the importance of a young boy's love of art and creative influences. Young Tomie is eager to begin school only to find he must wait until first grade to begin art lessons. He then finds his teacher tries to stifle his artistic ability by only allowing him to use the standard school crayons in class. He then fi ...more
Aug 22, 2010 Brenda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: picture-books
This story is a reflection of Tomie dePaola’s early introduction to the world of art while at school. He does a very nice job of showing his love of drawing with illustrations of himself drawing on the sheets undercover with a flashlight and onto the walls of his house. He speaks of the vibrant colors in his box of crayons with shades of “red-orange and blue-violet.” The book also reveals some of his early frustration with the teaching of art. Tomie dePaola conveys that he was told by his teache ...more
Jan 22, 2012 Patty rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-picture
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 24, 2011 Dolly rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
This is a fun tale that shows the beginnings of Tomie dePaola's interest in drawing and his early years as an artist. The illustrations are classic dePaola and I love the characters from some of his other stories featured in the pictures in the background. The story also offers a glimpse into his family's background, with Irish and Italian extended family members, a stay-at-home mother and a father who is a dentist. The story is interesting; I love that it shows the frustration of a young child ...more
Melanie, Aaron, Annie, and Mary Project
Read by: Annie
Author/Illustrator: Tomie dePaola
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Interest Level: K-2
Grade Level Equivalent: 4

I love this author! This is an autobiographical story about how Tommy, who wants to be an artist when he grows up, goes to school for the first time. He has to wait a whole year to get to first grade when the art lessons begin, and then he is dismayed to learn that they expect him to use lousy school crayons instead of his 64-pack of Crayolas. Even worse, they expect him to copy the
Aug 01, 2016 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Tommy is excited about art! To his dismay however, he realizes that art class is full of rules and restrictions. Luckily, Tommy's art teacher finds a way to compromise with him. Tommy creates a picture book about growing up and, in doing so, is able to express his individuality.

I would recommend this book to students in either first or second grade (students in grade K would appreciate it as well). There are a ton of pictures on every page which students will enjoy. Knowing that Tommy's story i
Leslie Kress
Mar 05, 2015 Leslie Kress rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
The Art Lesson by Tomie dePaola is about a boy Tommy who loves art and can’t wait for art class in school. However, it is not quite what he thinks. He has to use boring school crayons, paint that cracks, and he only gets one piece of paper in art class. Despite the fact that Tommy isn’t too happy about this,Tommy does continue with his love of art, compromises with his art teacher, and of course grows up to be the famous illustrator that we know today. Although his teachers in this book irked me ...more
Tory Haberman
Nov 29, 2014 Tory Haberman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Art Lesson by Tomie dePaola is about a boy named Tommy who knew he wanted to be an artist when he grew up, drawings pictures everywhere he went. Tommy practiced, practiced and practiced and couldn’t wait to take real art lessons at school. However, when he got to the art room, he was dismayed by the amount of rules and regulations there were to taking the art lessons. Will Tommy still pursue his dream of becoming an artist? Or will he decide to find a new passion?

This is a colorful and beaut
Jessica Jones
Interest Level
Grades K - 2
Reading Level
Grade level Equivalent: 4.0
Lexile Measure®: 650L
DRA: Not Available
Guided Reading: M
Realistic Fiction
Elementary School
Arts and Creativity
Visual Arts

Tommy wants to be an artist when he grows up. He draws pictures all the time and it is his favorite thing to do. Taking advice form family and friends he practices all the time so he can one day become a great artist he practices all the time. So when he is about to beg
Angelica Nucico
Dec 01, 2016 Angelica Nucico rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This miniature autobiography is written and illustrated by Tomie dePaola. This book covers only a small portion of his life in extensive detail. The last part just lets the reader know what Tomie currently does. This book is illustrated very well and the characters all actually have a little character to them even there is not much time for character development in a short story such as this. Somehow Tomie manages to make each character very personal while still getting his point across, without ...more
Shamilah Gillani
The main character, Tommy, is based off of real life artist Tomie dePaola's experience when he was a child. "The Art Lesson" is about a child who loves art and is really excited about his art specials, but is disappointed by all the rules that the teacher presents. The teacher encourages him to be creative, but still follow the rules. I think this is such a cute book to read to students before they go to specials or before we do any art activities. Students can learn that with perseverance and p ...more
May 09, 2012 Ana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely LOVE Tomie dePaola's books, but this is my absolute favourite of them all!

My son is half Italian and half Portuguese. These books were perfect for his half Italian side. The Strega Nona books are among this favourite childhood books (my son was born in 1991 so you see, he is no longer a child).

However, I, being an artist, myself, really related to this book. I loved this book so much that I made a recording of me reading it to give as Christmas gifts (along with the book) to my art
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Tomie dePaola (pronounced Tommy da-POW-la) is best known for his books for children.
He's been published for 40 years and has written and/or illustrated over 200 books, including 26 Fairmount Avenue, Strega Nona, and Meet the Barkers.
Tomie dePaola and his work have been recognized with the Caldecott Honor Award, the Newbery Honor Award and the New Hampshire Governor's Arts Award of Living Treasure.
More about Tomie dePaola...

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