When I saw this book in the library, I just had to pick it up. Famous graphic designer Saul Bass, who created the opening sequence for the movies "Ver...moreWhen I saw this book in the library, I just had to pick it up. Famous graphic designer Saul Bass, who created the opening sequence for the movies "Vertigo" and "North By Northwest", as well as the logos for famous name brands. This is his only children's book, originally printed in 1962 and reprinted in 2012, the story was created by former librarian Leonore Klein. I loved the illustrations, but wasn't a fan of story.
Henri is a small boy who lives in Reboul, France just outside of Paris, and dreams of visiting the famous city. His town is small and only has one bus and park, and a small population. After reading a book on Paris, he decides to go there with some lunch. After traveling for awhile, he stops in a wood and falls asleep. He gets turned around and thinks he is heading towards Paris, which looks remarkably like his town (it is) and then returns home. Recommended for ages 3-6, 3-1/2 stars. (less)
"I, Juan de Pareja" is about a black slave boy born in Seville, Spain in 1607, who belongs to a wealthy older woman. His mother, also owned by the wom...more"I, Juan de Pareja" is about a black slave boy born in Seville, Spain in 1607, who belongs to a wealthy older woman. His mother, also owned by the woman, died when he was a boy. His mistress treats him well and teaches him the alphabet and how to write letters. Sadly she and the rest of the household die from the plague. Juan is sent to live with the woman’s nephew, Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez (known predominantly as Velazquez in the book), a painter in Madrid. Juan longs to paint, but is unable to because of a law forbidding slaves to learn the arts. So he helps his master in any way he can, by prepping the master’s canvasses, paint, and arranging props. Eventually Velazquez becomes the court painter to the Spanish King Phillip IV, and his studio is moved into the palace. He meets the famous painter Peter Paul Rubens, and on Ruben’s recommendation travels to Italy with Juan, to copy and buy Italian works for the king. While there, Juan secretly teaches himself to draw and paint.
After much practice, he is able to paint a Virgin Mary, though his secret shames him so much that he finally tells an apprentice of his master Bartolomeo Esteban Murillo (great name, right?) the truth. Thankfully Murillo is kind to him, and praises his skill, but tells him to hold off telling Velazquez until later. Juan goes with his master to Italy a second time, and Velazquez ends up getting a commission to paint Pope Innocent X’s portrait, along with many Roman nobles and their families. Disaster almost strikes Juan’s master before they get to Rome when his painting hand becomes infected, but Juan’s prayers to the Virgin Mary are heard and his master is healed. Of course, Juan had promised the Virgin that he would tell his master his secret if he became well. They come back to Spain and paint for several more years before Juan finally admits, before the King, that he has been painting secretly and begs forgiveness. He is forgiven and freed by his master Velazquez, who then hires him as an assistant. He soon after marries his former mistress’s slave and they live with the Velazquez family until they die. Recommended for ages 9-12, 5 stars.
I picked this up after a quick browse of the children’s audiobook section. It looked interesting as I saw it was about painters, specifically Velasquez, whom I did not know much about. I had no idea until after I finished the book that it had won the 1966 Newbery Medal, and rightly so. The visual description and rich language of the story is what makes it so well-done, as it really draws you in from the beginning. The reader can really imagine what life was like in 17th Century Spain and Italy. I thought maybe the narrator had a speech problem as she read the text, but according to my mother (who has lived in Spain), the lisping is an affectation, particularly for Castilian Spanish people. Learn something new every day. The only slight downside to this book is that it is a bid dated in the “modern” terminology at the end of the book. In the afterword by the author, she notes that major points of the story is true, although not much is known about Velazquez himself or Juan de Pareja. Juan was owned by the master, who did later free him and add him on as an assistant. The King Phillip IV did have a good solid relationship with his court painter and did posthumously bestow upon him the Knighthood of the Order of Santiago (St. James), the highest honor in Spain. See here for more information: http://www.galicianflag.com/saint_jam.... (less)
I like the idea of a tiny pink Elephant named Pomelo, the illustrations were super cute (they would be great for individual prints to decorate a child...moreI like the idea of a tiny pink Elephant named Pomelo, the illustrations were super cute (they would be great for individual prints to decorate a child’s bedroom), and the ideas for color descriptions were very original. However, I think this book, like its predecessor (insert title) fell a little flat. Let me explain. The book is all about Pomelo and his friends learning about different colors and how amazing it is to live in a multi-colored world. That part is fine. It seems like the intended audience for this book is toddlers/preschoolers who are just learning their colors, and despite the small pages, I don’t think this age group will pay attention for the entire length of the book. It is something like 70 pages. My 2 ½ year old lost interest somewhere around the second color. They definitely thought outside the box when picking the color descriptions, like “the mysterious blue of dreams”, “the comforting white of dandelions” and “the foamy white of hot milk”. The book would make a fun creative book for older kids, maybe do a lesson on colors or poetry. Recommended for ages 3+, 3 stars.(less)
I really enjoyed this book! The Pre-Raphaelites are one of my favorite periods of art, so I’m always glad to read a story related to them. Effie Gray...moreI really enjoyed this book! The Pre-Raphaelites are one of my favorite periods of art, so I’m always glad to read a story related to them. Effie Gray was a beautiful educated young woman when she married art critic John Ruskin at age 19. Ruskin had become obsessed with her at age 12, but when he saw her on their wedding night, it was not what he had expected. I did some research on him after reading the book and it looks like he was not homosexual as some have suggested but may have been a pedophile, although looking at child pornography was not illegal or considered dangerous during the Victorian Age. It can be linked through several of his relationships with young girls that he usually fell in love with them at a very young age, but was less interested once they got older. In any case, he did not consummate his marriage to Effie, even though they were married for 6 or 7 years. Effie wanted to get out of the marriage, and so filed for annulment and Ruskin was pronounced impotent. While she was married to Ruskin, she fell in love with Ruskin’s young protégé, John Everett Millais, whom she later married.
This first half of the book was fascinating and very well-done. Although Ruskin is made to look like a crazy pervert and his parents come off rather creepy as well, I’m still very curious about his books as they sound fascinating. It seems that Effie did marry a very brilliant man, but one with almost no social skills. I rather think the author should’ve stopped the book at the halfway mark, but she decided to continue and talk about Effie and Millais’s (or Everett as he was known) marriage, their children, and Everett’s art career with and after the Pre-Raphaelites. There was a lot of talk calling Everett a sell-out after he left the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (or PRB), but I think he was ingenious. Unlike a lot of other artists of the period, he had to support himself and his wife and eight children, so he did whatever he had to do to survive and make money. So yes, his picture style naturally changes from the Medieval/detailed look of his earlier pictures to the more Aesthetic-looking pictures of his later career. Pretty much everyone knows who Millais is from one of his PRB paintings “Ophelia” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ophelia_...). I liked how much Effie and her family were and how much she depended on them to deal with her marriages and loss of children. I thought the chapter on Sophy Gray, Effie’s younger Gray, particularly interesting. As to whether or not Sophy and Everett had an affair, I cannot speculate on that. It is intriguing to note that there will be two movies out in 2014 about Effie Gray, though I think I will see the one written by Emma Thompson. 4 stars. (less)
I picked up this book first after reading Christopher Moore's book "Sacre Bleu: A Comedy d'Arte" because I was fascinated with Moore's interpretation...moreI picked up this book first after reading Christopher Moore's book "Sacre Bleu: A Comedy d'Arte" because I was fascinated with Moore's interpretation of Henri Toulouse-Latrec and wanted to find out more. Before delving into a thick academic book, which I also got, I decided to see how a children's nonfiction author would handle the artist. I was honestly wondering if would be possible to pull a book like this off, especially as a book for older elementary school children, without going into a discussion about drugs, alcohol and sex, three things which let's face it did influence Toulouse-Lautrec's artwork. I thought the author did an good job at explaining the basics about Toulouse-Lautrec's life. He was a considered a dwarf because of a hereditary bone condition and having broke both his legs as a child and they never healed properly, so the man was not quite five feet tall. Despite this, as the book explains, he was quite popular with everyone and very entertaining. Even though he came from an aristocratic family, he painted everyday scenes of contemporary Parisian life, such as the people that went to the various dance halls and circuses of the time, which were the main source of entertainment for those that lived in and around Montmartre. The amount of artwork the artist did in a 15 year period is mind-blowing. Very well-researched book, and the author does explain a bit more about the artist in the author's note in the back, along with a thorough bibliography. I am very interested in learning much more about Toulouse-Lautrec in the future. Recommended for ages 9-12, 4 stars. (less)
I have known about this book for awhile, but for whatever reason, I never picked it up though I find the subject matter fascinating. The book won the...moreI have known about this book for awhile, but for whatever reason, I never picked it up though I find the subject matter fascinating. The book won the 1974 Caldecott Honor and rightly so as it is a very well-done. The book shows the development, building and completion of a Gothic Cathedral in France in the 13th century, over the course of eighty years. Though it was originally created for children, I would use this book as a way to explain Art History to college students as it clearly explains the information without dumbing it down to the reader. I cannot wait to read his Caldecott Honor book on castles! Recommended for ages 9+, 5 stars. (less)
This was a good group of movie lists for both well-known and slightly obscure titles. I didn't know until after I started reading it that it was produ...moreThis was a good group of movie lists for both well-known and slightly obscure titles. I didn't know until after I started reading it that it was produced by the ALA (American Library Association), which is pretty cool. I made a list of about 20 films that I would like to watch from the book. 4 stars. (less)