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Vasya's Noisy Paint Box: How Vasily Kandinsky's Ears Invented Abstract Art

4.26 of 5 stars 4.26  ·  rating details  ·  381 ratings  ·  104 reviews
In this exuberant celebration of creativity, Barb Rosenstock and Mary Grandpre tell the fascinating story of Vasily Kandinsky, one of the very first painters of abstract art. Throughout his life, Kandinsky experienced colors as sounds, and sounds and colors--and bold, groundbreaking works burst forth from his noisy paint box.
Published February 1st 2014 by Not Avail
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Every single person sees the world in a different way. I learned that lesson early on. One of my brothers is color blind, which fascinated me to no end as a child. I bugged, hassled, and quizzed him every chance I got—What color is that? And that? What about this? Haha….He refuses to answer any color related questions to this day because of me. :)

The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky's Abstract Art tells the story of how Vasya Kandinsky saw the world and how abstract art came t
I really like the illustrations. GrandPré definitely has a unique style. The two-page picture of Vasya at the opera is one of my favourite scenes, as well as the one of him standing in his studio. I'll definitely have to look up his art - the examples shown in the book are really interesting.

Rebecca Honeycutt
Oh man. SO GOOD.

This fittingly colorful and exuberant picture book biography of Kandinsky is pitched just right for young readers. GrandPre captures the stunning, busy, dynamic quality of Kandinsky's art with astonishing panache. (Seriously, you just want to stare at these illustrations and let the colors seep into your soul.) Rosenstock's simple but deeply expressive text bursts with lively onomatopoeia, underscored by the changing typefaces. The author's note at the end reproduces some of Kand
This is called historical fiction, but it still seems to be a great introduction for younger students to learn some beginning information about abstract art Kandinsky in particular. It is a gorgeous book, proper and rather un-colorful pictures showing the beginning and proper beginning of the artist’s life. He actually began knowing he “heard” colors early in his life, but gave them up to go to law school. Kandinsky was a lawyer! What is described reminds me of Wendy Mass’s book, A Mango-Shaped ...more
Enter the amazing world of abstract art with this picture book biography of Kandinsky. Vasya Kandinsky was raised to be a very proper young Russian boy. Then his Auntie gave him a box of paints and he started to hear colors as sounds. No one else could hear the sounds, but to Vasya they were a symphony that he could paint. Vasya grew up and stopped painting. He still heard the colors around him, but he was going to be a lawyer. When he attended the opera one evening, Vasya saw the colors emerge ...more
Cathy Blackler
Rosenstock's fictionalized account of Kadinsky's determination to listen to his dreams works nicely with Mary GrandPre's striking illustrations. Nice back matter provides readers with additional information.
Great picture book biography. I loved the illustrations and that the artist used mixed media in some of book. The author's note was very informative and provided pictures of Kandinsky's art.
A fascinating portrait of Vasya Kandinsky and his art. I enjoyed learning about Kandinsky's early life and his "extra" sense that enabled him to hear colors and see music in colors. It was this ability that led him to create works that came to be known as abstract art, capturing the feelings created by the combined music and colors. GrandPre has painted interesting illustrations to accompany the story, incorporating some of Kandinsky's art into the later pages. The final pages provide additional ...more
This book made me want to paint, listen to music, go see some Kandinskys... I hope it does the same for kids.
Michelle McBeth
This is the story of the life of the abstract artist Vasily Kandinsky. It begins when he was a boy living in an upper class Russian home. He has to learn all of the typical things expected of a proper gentleman. It isn't until his aunt gives him his first paint box that a new world is opened to him. He hears the colors and paints them as he hears them (he has a condition called synesthesia in which he hears colors). No one understands his art though. He goes on to become a lawyer, but later come ...more
Christine Turner

Vasya Kandinsky was a proper little boy: he studied math and history, he practiced the piano, he sat up straight and was perfectly polite. And when his family sent him to art classes, they expected him to paint pretty houses and flowers--like a proper artist. But as Vasya opened his paint box and began mixing the reds, the yellows, the blues, he heard a strange sound--the swirling colors trilled like an orchestra tuning up for a symphony! And as he grew older, he continued to hear brilliant colo
This look at Kandinsky's formative years and his path to creating the art that would become his legacy is simply fascinating. It so perfectly captures the idea that art is an emotional experience for both the creator and the viewer that Kandinsky recognized from an early age.

The text is so full of descriptive language that it gives readers a view of the world similar to the way a person with synesthesia might experience it.

The ending invites readers to explore Kandinsky's artwork and form their
This is the fascinating story of Vasya Kandinsky, one of the pioneers of abstract art. He was a proper boy in Russia, studying math, science, and history (the illustrations show him as bored and uninspired while doing so) until he was given a box of paints. When he mixed the colors together, he heard a hiss that turned into a symphony. Now he was motivated and inspired! The music he heard in the colors drove him to paint wildly, not properly like his teachers wanted him to. He tried to conform a ...more
"The Noisy Paint Box," by Barb Rosenstock and illustrated by Mary Grandpre, is a lovely addition to the list of picture books published so far in 2014.

Vasya Kandinsky, the subject of this biographical book, grew up in a life of privilege in Russia. Though he was a good and "proper" boy, he was bored - until the day his Auntie gave him a wooden box of paints and brushes. He discovered that as he mixed colors, he also heard beautiful music. This became the inspiration for his abstract paintings. W
Aleksandra Petrovich
This book tells the story of the boy Vasya who was raised to be a proper Russian boy, practicing his piano scales and good table manners. One day his aunt gave him a box of paints and he started to hear colors around him. He began to paint this symphony of colors he heard around him. When he grew up, Vasya stopped painting and decided to become a lawyer. One night at the opera, he saw colors emerge from the music and his life was changed forever. Vasya returned to his true love – painting, and w ...more
"I could hear the hiss of the colors as they mingled."

A fictionalized account of the life of Vasily Kandinsky. Expected to be proper and like everyone else, his artistic ability was not seen as an asset - especially since he didn't like to paint houses or people. He wanted to paint "the colors he heard." He felt that "Art should make you feel." But, doing what others expected of him, be became a law professor. However, "he couldn't ignore the sounds of the colors singing to him in the streets of
This beautifully illustrated picture book biographical fiction tale tells the story of Vasily Kandinsky, known as one of the first painters of abstract art. Vasya was raised in Russia as a member of a well-to-do family. He was educated, took piano lessons, and was trained to be proper and polite. When his aunt gave him a box of paints to kindle his appreciation for the arts, he heard music from the different colors in the box. When he went to the opera "Vasya heard the colors singing. He saw the ...more
Gretchen Taylor

reminds me of A Mango-Shaped Space, by Wendy Mass (synesthesia connection- fifth grade and up)
Notice as a reader that Kandinsky appears to be different -- I wonder if I will continue to notice that through the story and think about what that does for the plot
RI Standard 3: how people affected Kandinsky as an artist (telling him he had to do certain things), what happened to turn Kandinsky into the artist he was
RI Standard 7: how visual info contributes to understanding of a text -- “Why
Young readers may wonder how art can possibly speak, but for artist Vasily Kandinsky, the colors he used for his drawings sang and those sounds actually danced. Although he had a very proper upbringing and was trained in classic artist styles, he eventually rebelled and painted what he saw, felt, and heard. Young readers are likely to be inspired by this man's creativity and his exploration of art that would come to be known as abstract. The acrylic paint and paper collage illustrations are just ...more
With some strategic paper-clipping toward the middle, this was a great read-aloud to complement a library program on Kandinsky for kindergarteners through second graders. Despite my art history BA, I didn't know about Kandinsky's synesthesia, and this book takes what is a rather difficult concept for younger kids to understand and makes it seem like the simplest thing in the world. GrandPre's illustrations definitely help in that way - they're beautiful, muted, and yet vibrant in a way that real ...more
The tricky part about illustrated biographies of artists is giving a sense of their style, while still allowing the illustrator to illustrate their own story. Mary GrandPre succeeds - and while her style is unlike Kandinsky's abstract art, she absolutely conveys that sense of his art speaking to him, appealing to multiple senses. As young Vasya goes from his dull, polite world to the world of art, GrandPre's illustrations brighten. Vasya's colors spill out from his paintings, and the palette con ...more
A simple story of the life of Vasya Kandinsky, the Russion artist who began the Abstract Art movement. Kandinsky first received a paint set from his aunt and quickly learned that he heard wondrous music when he mixed the colors and painted. But his parents wanted him to focus on academics. And his art teacher wanted him to paint houses, flowers, trees. Kandinsky wasn't happy.

Eventually as an adult he decided to make painting his career. But the critics didn't like his work. He didn't care. He wa
This is a wonderful biography about Vasily Kandinsky and shows his determination to create artwork the way he wanted to, despite pressures from family, teachers, and friends to create more traditional pieces. The narrative is very interesting and focuses on the way the colors sang to him and really inspired him to create a new type of art - abstract art.

The illustrations are marvelous and we loved the way Mary GrandPré depicted the colors singing to Vasya and the way music brought an array of c
This is an excellent picture book biography, giving a brief outline of Kandinsky's childhood, his interest in art, and his development of abstract art. The acrylic and collage illustrations are brilliant, flowing, free, and highly colorful. There is high contrast between Kandinsky's exuberant abstracts and the traditional, realistic paintings hanging in the family home. Mary Grandpre is well-known for her book cover illustrations of the American editions of the seven Harry Potter books. She is v ...more
Read  Ribbet
Proving again the power of picture book biographies, Rosenstock tells the story of Russian Painter Vasya Kandinsky whose life is never the same when he discover the sounds of colors in a gift paint box. We watch Kandinsky's efforts to capture the sound of colors in his art while others try to rechannel his unusual ways. Eventually we see him follow his instinct and go his own way paving the way for abstract art.
The illustrations evoke a similar style. Rosenstock captures this important life and
If you have a project which involves studying a famous artist and abstract art, this biography on Kandinsky is a great resource to use. A fantastic picture book biography that explores how one ordinary little boy named Vansa Kandinsky became one of the most (and first) accomplished painters in abstract art and describes how Vasya Kandinsky's creative life was profoundly shaped by a neurological condition called synesthesia which caused him to experienced colors as sounds and sounds as colors. A ...more
I really enjoyed the book, not only because it is a biography of a great artist and is well illustrated, but because it describes his synesthesia. I hadn't heard of associating sounds with colors, though I oddly associate numbers with colors. Luckily my world is a bit quieter than his! In any case, I really love children's books which describe kids with differences, but do not portray them as "disabilities." Kandinsky was just wired a little differently than the rest of us, and sharing his synes ...more

From grey, brown and muted blues to the introduction of muted pinks, yellows, green to vibrant colors appearing on the pages, this tale of Kandinsky's introduction to art as a child to his emergence as an artist as an adult is well-suited to a picture book format. Good author's note which includes both info about synesthesia and a few photos of Kandinsky's paintings (I just wish they were larger). Great intro to Kandinsky, abstract art and the question 'how does it make you feel?' when looking a
What if you could see music dancing and hear colors singing? If you could, you might be like Vasily Kandinsky, a Russian artist, who found sound in his paint box: "whisper, hiss! HISS!" and colors filling his senses when he went to the opera.
The expressions of his boyhood faces reflect his lack of enthusiasm and interest in typical, acceptable, 'proper' topics. Children will relate to his facial expressions; my favorite page is the adults talking newsprint while he and the fish are totally bored
As a child Vasily Kandinsky learned to be a proper Russian boy: studying hard in school, practicing piano, and sitting mannerly at a dinner table full of adults. But everything changed the day his aunt gave him a box of paints. Suddenly, colors came alive for Vasya, as each shade created new sounds in his ears.

Eventually growing weary of his adult life as a lawyer, Kandinsky quit his job teaching law in Moscow and moved to Munich to be a painter. The famous teachers he studied with didn't unders
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