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The Noisy Paint Box

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  3,615 ratings  ·  609 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 as colors--and bold, groundbreaking works burst forth from his noisy paint box.
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published February 11th 2014 by Alfred A. Knopf (first published January 31st 2014)
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I do love Kandinsky’s artwork. I found it about 10 years ago, but I never looked deeply into it and the story behind it. This book has peaked my interest. This gives a short biography of Kandinsky. He was from a wealthy Russian home. His aunt gave him a painting set. He could hear the colors hiss as he mixed them. He set all this aside as he did what was proper and expected of him. He became a lawyer and he began teaching. Eventually he moved to Munich and studied painting. Eventually, he ...more
Lisa Vegan
I started regularly going to art museums by the time I was 8 years old and Kandinsky was my first favorite painter, and even though I no longer consider him a favorite, I do appreciate his art and I still have interest in him and his work. I never knew about his synesthesia until recently, and while I’ve never “heard” his paintings they did “make me feel” just as he intended. His paintings were my introduction to abstract/modern art.

This is an excellent picture book biography of Kandinsky.
Vasily Kandinsky's development as an artist and the struggles of both him (and many of his colleagues) to break free from the standard and "appropriate" (quotes are mine) dictates of what art, of what in particular painting was supposed to be, and this actually being the genesis of Expressionism, Cubism, Surrealism, of basically all abstract art in general, is glowingly and readably presented by author Barb Rosenstock in and with her brilliant and evocative The Noisy Paintbox.

The featured and
Sep 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books

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
Dec 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Oh! I love this! I probably would not have discovered it if not for the fact that it won a Caldecott honor, so ty to Children's Books group.

I appreciate how concise it is; it gets to the point directly, and is therefore powerful. I love the art, and I am glad to say that it makes me appreciate Kandinsky's own work more (which is why I read children's artist bios, but only sometimes do they succeed).

And it reminds me of what I try to do when with children making art. I don't ask them 'what is
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
I've never been a fan of abstract art, including Kandinsky's, but now, after reading this book, I understand what drove him, and I have a new appreciation of his work. Kandinsky experienced colors as sounds and sounds as colors, which is a form of synesthesia, a condition unknown in his day. If you could hear the same way he did, his paintings might make beautiful music when you look at them! That may be the key to understanding all abstract art--you need to be able to see it the way the artist ...more
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
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.

Dec 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: picture, art
An interesting short look at Kandinsky's childhood and the relationship between music and his abstract art.

Given Kandinsky's long and experimental career, it's not really possible to do justice to him in the length of a picture book.
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
Nov 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Crystal Marcos
Jan 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review is a combined review from my 7 year old who has been interested in art for a while now (I suspect will remain interested) and myself. I have been looking for books to encourage her, I have a desire to find her books about artists who were also interested in art at a young age. My daughter has a unique style of art and is attracted to unique artwork. When we look at art she finds beauty in pieces I struggle to find. I was excited about this particular book because the artist, Vasily ...more
Linda Lipko
Feb 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a well-deserved Caldecott honor book. The illustrations are story meld together to create a wonderful story of Vasily Kandinsky, the well-known abstract artist. As a child Vasily did what he was told. Feeling he was different and thus very constrained it took awhile for the boy to become the man who embraced his differences and in doing so left behind incredible art.

Hearing colors as musical notes that danced and sung in the air is how the artist perceived art. This is a wonderful story
A wonderful introduction to the work of Kandinsky and to synesthesia, the book is gorgeously illustrated and well-written.
Mar 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: art, j-nonfiction
"Stomping lines of vermilion and coral. Caroling triangles of pistachio and garnet. Thundering arches of aqua and ebony, with shrill points of cobalt and saffron." WOW.
4.5 out of 5
The beautiful writing and gorgeous illustrations work EXTREMELY well in telling this fascinating story of Vasily Kandinsky, a Russian painter who created abstract art and who most likely had synesthesia (i.e., he experienced colors as sounds and sounds as colors):

"It took a long time for people to understand.
'Is it a house?' 'Is it a flower?' 'What's it supposed to be?'
'It's my art,' Vasya answered. 'How does it make you feel?'"
Adrienne Pettinelli
Winner of a 2015 Caldecott Honor. Inspired me to wrap my mind around some Kandinsky. Inspiring in general.
Jan 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Vasily Kandinsky had a type of synesthesia that allowed him to "hear colors." His abstract paintings sparked a revolution in the world of art.
Feb 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens
This book made me want to paint, listen to music, go see some Kandinskys... I hope it does the same for kids.
My interview with Barb Rosenstock:
Feb 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Simply beautiful picture book biography (illustrated by Mary GrandPre of Harry Potter fame) of how Vasily Kandinsky grew up into a groundbreaking abstract artist. Did you know he had mild synesthesia? Back matter includes Author's Note, Sources, and images of his paintings.

"Is it a house?" "Is it a flower?" "What's it supposed to be?"
"It's my art," Vasya answered. "How does it make you feel?"
Robert Davis
**** Caldecott Honor (2015) ****

Exceptional biopic of one of the most influential artists of the early 20th Century and founder of the abstract art movement.
Ben Truong
Jan 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Noisy Paint Box is a children's picture book written by Barb Rosenstock and illustrated by Mary GrandPré. This impressive biography of Vasily Kandinsky highlights the unusual connection between his art and the music that inspired it.

Vasily Kandinsky was a Russian painter and art theorist and is generally credited as the pioneer of abstract art.

Rosenstock's text is rather simplistic, straightforward, and informative. The narrative focuses on passages of Kandinsky's writing that seem to
May 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Readers of any age.
Recommended to Helen by: No-one.
Shelves: russia
This is a charming, beautifully illustrated children's book about the painter Vasily Kandinsky - who is known as the father of abstraction (or at least one of the fathers).

Kandinsky has always been one of my favorite painters - maybe because he was an iconoclast, but also because his paintings are so exciting.

Much of 20th C art appreciation depends on accepting the premise that non-objective art - expressionism, formalism, etc. - is art of today, of our modern world, and that the break with
The Noisy Paint Box, by Barb Rosenstock, Illustrated by Mary Grandpre

This historical fiction book is about a little boy who is primp and proper, but one day given a paint box that ultimately changes his whole world. Vasily, the boys name, hears the sounds of the paint, which make him feel alive. Instead of making beautiful art like proper artists would, Vasily mixed his paint colors and let the paint brush guide him into making abstract art. The characters in the story thought he was crazy,
Jul 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
An impressive portrait of a young Kandinsky. When his aunt gives him his first paint box, it comes alive. Sounds burst out from the colors within. Experiencing sounds as colors and colors as sounds influences Kandinsky's groundbreaking work, becoming the first recognized in abstract art. This book is just lovely.
Dalton Collins
Feb 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kid-lit
This book is a creative way to show the story of Vasya Kandinsky and the historic changes he made in the art world. It shows readers, using vibrant colors and illustrations, a fun fictional take on the trials of this very real painter. This would be a fun read for most classrooms.
Kayla Edgar
Jul 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
This book was beautiful in how it captured Kandinsky's discovery of painting in such a magical way! Illustrations fantastic, storytelling fantastic, plus I really enjoyed all the background info at the end.
Apr 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
I didn’t know much about the artist Vasya Kandinsky, so this was very interesting to read. A nice introduction to the artist for young and old.
Apr 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
I decided to read this because I'm interested in synesthesia and I also enjoy Kandinsky's art. Looking at his paintings before understanding synesthesia one would just assume they are abstract, but after reading this it makes sense that he would have synesthesia as music would put off colors in his head, inspiring him to paint. The illustrations in this book were beautiful!
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