A solid introduction to fascinating artists, some familiar, others less so.

WOMEN ARTISTS A TO Z

Contemporary and historical female artists are showcased for younger readers.

The artists’ names aren’t presented in A-to-Z order. The alphabetical arrangement actually identifies signature motifs (“D is for Dots” for Yayoi Kusama); preferred media (“I is for Ink” for Elizabeth Catlett); or cultural, natural, or personal motives underlying artworks (“N is for Nature” for Maya Lin). Various media are covered, such as painting, box assemblage, collage, photography, pottery, and sculpture. One artist named isn’t an individual but rather the Gee’s Bend Collective, “generations of African American women in Gee’s Bend, Alabama,” renowned for quilting artistry. Each artist and her or their work is introduced on a double-page spread that features succinct descriptions conveying much admiring, easily comprehensible information. Colorful illustrations include graphically simplified representations of the women at work or alongside examples of their art; the spreads provide ample space for readers to understand what the artists produced. Several women were alive when this volume was written; some died in the recent past or last century; two worked several hundred years ago, when female artists were rare. Commendably, the profiled artists are very diverse: African American, Latina, Native American, Asian, white, and multiethnic women are represented; this diversity is reflected in their work, as explained via texts and illustrations.

A solid introduction to fascinating artists, some familiar, others less so. (minibiographies, discussion questions, art suggestions) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-10872-7

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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Lacking structure.

BOTTLE TOPS

THE ART OF EL ANATSUI

An introduction to the work of El Anatsui.

In this half-baked biography of the acclaimed Ghanaian artist, Goldberg attempts to string together a comprehensive description of the subject’s life and art—with special attention to his striking sculptures made from bottle caps—and the politics that shaped both. Compelling illustrations—in paint and collage and supported with photographs of Anatsui’s original works in the backmatter—convey aspects of the artist’s life, though they may not hold a young reader’s attention as well as a sparkling, 30-foot-tall fabric sculpture. With little to no background on how Anatsui rose to prominence in the global art scene and only the lightest of touches on the political background in Ghana, why he left to live in Nigeria, or why the trans-Atlantic slave trade might be an important topic for his art, the writing lacks a clear driving theme or message. Passable for those familiar with the work but otherwise flimsy, this book falls prey to the trap of oversimplification on too many fronts, among them the development of an artist, the importance of contemporary African art abroad, and the concept of reusing and recycling; even the “art activity” proposed in the backmatter leaves something to be desired. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Lacking structure. (author’s note, text sources, quotation sources) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: May 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-62014-966-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Lee & Low Books

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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A book to share that celebrates an immigrant and his abiding love for his adopted country, its holidays, and his “home sweet...

IRVING BERLIN, THE IMMIGRANT BOY WHO MADE AMERICA SING

A Jewish immigrant from Russia gives America some of its most iconic and beloved songs.

When Israel Baline was just 5 years old, his family fled pogroms in the Russian Empire and landed in New York City’s Lower East Side community. In the 1890s the neighborhood was filled with the sights, smells, and, most of all, sounds of a very crowded but vibrant community of poor Europeans who sailed past the Statue of Liberty in New York’s harbor to make a new life. Israel, who later became Irving Berlin, was eager to capture those sounds in music. He had no formal musical training but succeeded grandly by melding the rich cantorial music of his father with the spirit of America. Churnin’s text focuses on Berlin’s early years and how his mother’s words were an inspiration for “God Bless America.” She does not actually refer to Berlin as Jewish until her author’s note. Sanchez’s digital illustrations busily fill the mostly dark-hued pages with angular faces and the recurring motif of a very long swirling red scarf, worn by Berlin throughout. Librarians should note that the CIP information and the timeline are on pages pasted to the inside covers.

A book to share that celebrates an immigrant and his abiding love for his adopted country, its holidays, and his “home sweet home.” (author’s note, timeline) (Picture book/biography. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-939547-44-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Creston

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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