Sunday, October 4, 2020

Book Review Sunday

How to Spot an Artist 
Author: Danielle Krysa 
Publisher: Prestel 
Review copy: Final copy via publisher 
Availability: On shelves now 

Summary: A book about being an artist...even when someone tells you not to be. This book is for all the art kids out there: the creative young people who love to draw, paste, cut, glitter, and tape their way through life. And what to do when art bullies--or your own inner critic--show up saying nonsense like, "You'll never be good enough!" Hint: make stuff! 

Review: This is a playful book about making art. There is a growing number of books like this encouraging young readers to continue to make art. I'm sad we need these books, but until we don't, I'll keep sharing books like this with young people. Many people stop creating because what they make doesn't seem to be perfect or what other people make. They also seem to forget that even artists need to practice their skills so they don't have to create something perfect the first time. 

The story has creative characters rather than actual people and I think that adds to the humor and lightness of the book. I appreciate that it points out that our inner critic can be bullying us and shaming us. This is the tricky part of making art--doing it in spite of our worries. 

Recommendation: This is a nice book to encourage creativity. If you already have Beautiful Oops! by Barney Saltzberg and What if... by Samantha Berger and want more titles to support hesitant artists, this would be another title to add. I also think it would pair really well with Lois Ehlerts picture book memoir The Scraps Book: Notes from a Colorful Life.

Author: Thierry Dedieu
Publisher: Prestel Junior
Translator & Project Manager: Melanie Schöni (translated from French)
Review copy: Final copy via publisher
Availability: On shelves now

Summary: Snakes, bats, and spiders aren't that frightening--but just wait till you see what they're like on the inside! This delightfully ghoulish book is filled to the brim with creatures perfect for some Halloween fun. Whether it's a big bad wolf or a skeletal ghost, each monster is hiding its really horrible side beneath a foldable flap. Lift the foldout on the crab to reveal sharp teeth and tentacle tongues or pull down the flap on the spider to discover its recently caught snacks. Thierry Dedieu's colorful illustrations bring humor and lightheartedness to many spine-chilling creatures. A perfect blend of silly and scary, this big board book helps kids overcome their worries with laughter. Encourage your children to embrace their spooky side with this Halloween treat!

Review: This is definitely an interesting book. The initial illustrations seem slightly creepy, but when the folded flaps are expanded, there are some ghoulish images inside each creature. I can see this being a delight for young readers who want to have a tingle of fear, but who like to control how much and when they want to see it. They can slowly pull down the tabs or even skip some of them if they are too concerned. I am constantly being asked for scary books in my library for 4-11 year olds. It seems like the 4-6 age range really want to be spooked, but in books they do have the control of the page turn, or in this case, the flap reveal. I do wish they had used the word venomous instead of poisonous with the snake and that it didn't show a wolf as a creature that eats humans, but still, this will delight many young thrill seekers. 

Recommendation: This is a fun book that many readers of spooky fare will enjoy and it will be a hit for Halloween. The flaps will make this one that won't last a long time in a circulating library, but will be enjoyed  while it holds up. 

Author: Géraldine Elschner 
Illustrator: Lucie Vandevelde
Original Co-author: Josef Krawina
Architect: Peter Pelikan
Publisher: Prestel
Translator: Paul Kelly
Review copy: Final copy via publisher
Availability: On shelves now

Summary: The Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser believed that humanity and nature shared a harmonious partnership, a philosophy that he demonstrated with his architectural creations. Filled with color-saturated illustrations that echo Hundertwasser's bold style, this story introduces young readers to the idea of environmentally conscious and playful architecture. When construction starts on a new building in Lea's neighborhood, she fears that her favorite tree will be chopped down. For days she watches anxiously as the tree is covered up and surrounded by bricks. Finally, she learns that the tree has been spared and made the centerpiece of a fantastic new building, where it will live a long and healthy life. Lucie Vandevelde's joyful drawings convey a kid's-eye view of city life, complete with people, pets, automobiles, and machinery. As the new building emerges, readers will come to learn about some of Hundertwasser's celebrated and offbeat principles--such as the rights of tenants to paint the walls outside of their windows, that trees should be given their own rooms, and that "straight lines lead to the downfall of humanity." A brief biography of Hundertwasser at the end of the book fills readers in on the work of this pioneering artist whose ideas were once radical but are now integrated into many architectural concepts.

Review: I can just imagine children pouring over this book. There are so many patterns and colors and unique creations. It's vibrant and gives the eyes so much to explore. The story combines architecture and a concern for nature.

What I truly love is that this is based on an actual place. It's fabulous that they chose to include some photos and information about the artist that inspired the story. It would be great to pair this with The Secret Kingdom: Nek Chand, a Changing Inida and a Hidden World of Art

Recommendation: For readers who like something a little quirky or enjoy art and architecture, this will be a winner. I found the art charming and quite fun. That and the historical aspect were more enthralling than the story, but if unique is what you are after, this is for you. 

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