Posted tagged ‘Award-Winning Books’

Radiant Art

May 4, 2017

“Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.” ~Henry Ward Beecher

I was not familiar with Jean-Michel Basquiat until I read, Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, written and illustrated by Javaka Steptoe, Little, Brown and Company. This book was awarded the 2017 Caldecott Medal, the 2017 Coretta Scott King Award for its illustrations, and the 2017 NAACP Image Award Nomination for Outstanding Literary Work.

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From an early age, Jean-Michel knew he wanted to become a famous artist. His mother was a creative spark in his life, exposing him to literature, theater, museums, and the energy of New York City. His father brought home old paper from the office on which Jean-Michel drew for hours. When his mother became ill, Jean-Michel lost an important mentor in his life. More than ever, drawing and painting were his passion. At night, he spray-painted poems and drawings on the walls in the New York City. His pieces brought attention to the city’s diverse population and its social and political issues. Basquiat’s unique style was embraced by art critics and fans, and, at a young age, he achieved his goal of becoming a famous artist.

“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” ~Edgar Degas

What makes this book truly amazing is Javaka Steptoe’s eye-catching illustrations. In the back matter of the book, he provides more information about Jean-Michel Basquiat and adds a poignant author note. Javaka Steptoe was inspired by Basquiat’s work. He saw his graffiti in New York City, read about Basquiat in the newspapers, and went to one of his art shows. In illustrating this book, Steptoe says he used his own interpretations of the artist’s works rather than using copies. The end result is a book filled with vivid illustrations inspired by Basquiat and his unique style. Through his text and art, Javaka Steptoe exposes readers to an extraordinary artist and offers them an opportunity to learn and appreciate artists and their compositions.

“The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider’s web.” ~Pablo Picasso


 

Movin’ to the Music

May 5, 2016

Music speaks to me. When I hear something that makes me want to move to the groove, I find my happy feet.

 

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Jazz Baby did just that. This book is written by Lisa Wheeler and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie and is a Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book. Wheeler’s text and Christie’s illustrations sing to its readers. It’s fast-paced. It has rhythm, rhyme, and a beat that keeps your toes tapping. There’s snap, clap, and singing with a “Doo-Wop-Doo.” Each page turn offers up more fun as family, friends, and neighbors get into the action as the beat goes on. When the song and dance party comes to an end, it’s time for the little jazz baby to sleep. “OH YEAH!”

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Another book that is upbeat is Trombone Shorty. It’s a Coretta Scott King Award winner and a Caldecott Honor Book. This is a picture book autobiography written by Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews and illustrated by Bryan Collier. Andrews tells how his love of music began when he was a child, living in New Orleans where music was always in the air. He was drawn to brass instruments, and when he found a broken trombone, he made it his. Because the instrument was much bigger than he was, he got the nickname Trombone Shorty. His older brother encouraged him, and he practiced day and night. At a jazz festival, Bo Diddley heard him play his trombone and called him on stage to join him. After that, Trombone Shorty organized his own band and played around New Orleans. He now has a band of his own and has performed with many talented musicians. Even with his success, Trombone Shorty has not forgotten his roots. He started the Trombone Shorty Foundation to make sure the musical history of New Orleans is preserved. His foundation also helps mentor talented music students from New Orleans high schools. This inspiring story accompanied by Collier’s  amazing illustrations is not to be missed.        

Jesse Klausmeier: Creative Author, Creative Book

June 20, 2013

When someone says “open this little book,” do it – especially when it’s Jesse Klausmeier talking to you!

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Open This Little Book, published by Chronicle Books, is a charming picture book written by the very talented Jesse Klausmeier and illustrated by the equally talented Suzy Lee.

Last Friday, Jesse was at the local library for an author presentation. Her beaming smile and warm personality made everyone feel welcome.

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Jesse launched her program by having the audience  join her in singing her favorite song – the theme song from “Reading Rainbow.”  She watched this program as a young child which helped instill her love of reading. Jesse dedicated her book to her parents, grandparents, and LeVar Burton, host of “Reading Rainbow.”

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Open This Little Book is based on a book Jesse wrote when she was five years old. Thanks to her teacher parents and her grandmother, Jesse learned to love reading and writing books at a very young age. At bedtime Jesse wanted more than just one story read to her so she devised a clever way to entice her parents into reading more. She placed small books inside a larger book. When her parents opened the larger book – surprise – there were more books to read. Open This Little Book is like that. There are books within a book! Each character, Ladybug, Frog, Rabbit, Bear, and Giant, has his own book.

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Jesse read her book to us and then got the youngsters in the audience involved. As she read, a child would play a different instrument to represent each character.

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Then she had everyone take a closer look at the book and Suzy Lee’s illustrations. Jesse read the book again and had a different set of children use a prop that went along with each character. They sipped tea, tipped a hat, looked at the time, carried an umbrella, and waved a giant hand.

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Included in Jesse’s presentation were tidbits about each character’s size as compared to the size of each book inside. She spoke about the problem and solution in the story and commented about the end pages.

During the Q & A time, a little girl presented Jesse with a book she had made about how to write a book. It had excellent advice!

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And one little boy offered up a very profound question:  Why did the chicken cross the road?

Open This Little Book is a MUST HAVE book. It received two starred reviews and won a 2013 Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor for Excellence in Children’s Literature. Though spare in text, this book opens a whole new world of sharing, making new friends, and reading. Suzy Lee’s delightful illustrations fill the pages with clever details and surprises.

Jesse is a person to watch. She’s intelligent, talented, and witty. Her presentation was informative and entertaining. She displayed a wonderful sense of humor as she kept the adorable, roly-poly youngsters and adults actively involved. I give Jesse Klausmeier and her book a starred review! I can’t wait to see more.

Where to find Jesse Klausmeier:

The ALA Conference in Chicago at the Chronicle booth signing books on Saturday, June 29th from 12:30 – 1:30

Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville, IL on Sunday, June 30th along with Chris Raschka, Molly Idle, and Loren Long at 1:00

Website: www.JesseKlausmeier.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jmklausmeier

Twitter: @JesseKlausmeier


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