February 16, 2013

Book Wisdom Review, February 16, PICASSO, I THE KING, YO EL REY

PICASSO, I THE KING by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand
It takes spunk, finesse, creativity, intelligence and an “I can do” attitude when it comes to writing biographies for youth, especially in the young adult category.  Biographies have to honestly capture the historical figure in a manner that engages the reader, balances the light and shadow aspects of another human being while delivering essential information.  Carmen T. Bernier-Grand, an award-winning author elevates biography writing to a very high standard.  Her recent biography, PICASSO, I THE KING, YO EL REY illustrated by Caldecott –winning illustrator David Diaz is published by Amazon Children’s Books.  Through free verse poems based on the roller coaster life of Pablo Picasso, Carmen places her young adult readers in the first car of the coaster guiding them through Picasso’s life of drama.  Twists and turns, ups and downs, highs and lows are shared with honesty and integrity. David Diaz's illustration of the poems and Picasso’s life are simply beautiful and capture Pablo’s life  through his use of color and line.  What a creative way to do biography.  PICASSO, I THE KING is a 64 page, deeply researched biography that is written beautifully and has a substantial section of back matter.   The only problem I see with this book is that it was not available to me when I taught high school art and art history. 

I give this book four apples, a great read.  This biography for young adults engages the reader through poetry and imagery.  It would make a great addition to a library and teaching about art that supports young adults.

Carmen T. Bernier-Grand

The themes in this book are biography, 20th Century Art History, Picasso, and how life creates and impacts art.  It is a book designed for mature young adults.  It is question and thought provoking supporting higher level thinking skills of young adults.

Carmen T. Bernier-Grand has many other successful biographies and if you would like to find out more about Carmen and her award winning work, you can check out her website at: CARMEN'S WEBSITE  This book is available by ordering at your local independent book seller and Amazon Children's Books.

February 4, 2013

Book Wisdom, February 4th 2013, Book of the Month, New Voices Award, Honor

IT JES' HAPPENED, When Bill Traylor Started to Draw by Don Tate
      Black History month is upon us.  This month I am sharing with you a piece of Black history and American folk-art history through a children’s book.  IT JES’ HAPPENED, When Bill Traylor Started to Draw by award winning, debut author, Don Tate, illustrated by award winning illustrator, R. Gregory Christie is a new gem that recently was awarded the New Voices Award, Honor by Lee & Low Books.   Lee and Low is an independent children’s publisher that focuses on diversity while meeting the needs of all children providing stories children will enjoy and relate to.

     IT JES’ HAPPENED tells the story of American folk artist Bill Traylor through the hearts, minds, words, and pictures of Tate and Christie who are creating a history of their own as Black American artists.  Trifecta!  IT JES’ HAPPENED is an achievement that involves three successful outcomes.  It brings to life a piece of important folk art and Black history in a manner that gives hope and inspires creativity through the work and story of Bill Traylor.  Second, Don Tate tells the journey of Traylor, a child born into slavery moving through his life saving up memories, deep down inside, with honesty and reverence through language that engages the reader and holds their attention making you want to know more.  In the third outcome Christie brings the perfect matches of illustration style and palette that takes Traylor’s life and drawings and spreads them across the pages echoing back the author’s voice and Traylor’s work and memories. 

    IT JES’ HAPPENED is a 32 page, non-fiction picture book biography for children. What else makes this story stand out beyond the fine craftsmanship and interesting history?  IT JES’ HAPPENED captures how stories are created, held deep within, and through creativity can be released no matter roots, journey, or age.  It captures creativity's timelessness showing children your never to old, and it's never to late to learn and start something new. 

 I give this book 5 apples, cream of the crop. Craftsmanship and themes of creativity and timelessness in a non-fiction biography for children is hard to come by at this level of execution.  It makes a great addition for art educators, librarians, teachers, and children and adults who appreciate other's life stories and creative outcomes.  IT JES' HAPPENED is not to be just taken off the shelve in February to celebrate Black History month.  

This book is a biography picture book which has large word count and more complicated words and sentence structure than general picture books. It is for children 8 and up.  It is a fun way to learn history.  The themes in this book are Black history, American folk art history, life, drawing, your never to old, not worrying about what others think, and expressing your self. A teachers guide is available on the author's website.

If you want to find out more about author/illustrator Don Tate, check out his website
 at:  Don's Website   If you want to find more talented children's authors and illustrators of color, check out : THE BROWN BOOKSHELF

This book can be found through your local independent bookseller and online at major chain websites.  In Grand Junction, our local independent book seller is Grand Valley Books.

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