In a Nutshell Book Reviews—Artsy Kid Lit

AIDS, quilt, kids, grief

A Name On the Quilt:  A Story of Remembrance  by Jeanine Atkins  

Lauren observes her parents preparing fabric.  They are going to sew a patch to memorialize her uncle, and have it added to the national AIDS quilt.  As she watches, she remembers many special times with Uncle Ron.  Her little brother is asking a bunch of questions, and she wonders if he’ll ever understand it all.  While the family members sew this patch, they think of who Ron was, and celebrate his life.  When little Bobby adds the socks his uncle gave him to the patch, Lauren sees he does understand and misses their special uncle too.  She worried aloud that Bobby would mess up the parts he was coloring for the patch, but after his parts are sewn on, she sees they look just perfect.  Though the family is sad that Ron isn’t there with them any longer, they enjoy reminiscing about him.  What a heart-warming book!  The illustrations are quite artistic, and may be prints of paintings.  They have a very homey, soothing feel to them.  Each page also has a faux stitched border around it, framing the text.  A nice touch to carry on the quilting theme!  AIDS isn’t something every family has to contend with, but grief is, and this story can assist people in connecting to their nice memories of a lost loved one.

weaving, pictures, reflecting source

Weaving the Rainbow by George Ella Lyon 

A weaver looks at the sheep in her pasture and sees rainbows in their wool. When they are lambs in March, they’re pure white but by shearing time, color shows up in their wool.  Lyon shares the process from shearing to weaving, including new vocabulary words.  An added special element to this (besides the fabulous illustrations by Stephanie Anderson) is that weaver looked to the source of her creation, instead of her own talent, and was grateful to the sheep for their wool.

animals, art, kid lit, arguing, common grounds, unityWhen Pigasso Met Mootisse by Nina Laden

Painters Pigasso and Mootisse are first separate, beginning to enjoy the success of their efforts.  Each in demand by their communities, Pigasso and Mootisse are overwhelmed and seek solace on country farms, directly opposite each other.  When one criticizes the other’s artistic expression, things quickly get out of hand.  They squabble and argue, and build a fence to keep each other off their property.  Anyone with more than one child in the house can relate!  Soon, the duo paint their own sides of the fence, trying to apologize when they miss the other’s company.  This move brings them together as friends.  Laden introduces the real artists Picasso and Matisse to her young readers at the end, who were true friends.  This is a fun read that can be subtly instructive to any bickering kids.

clay, greed, swallowing, demise, freedom

Clay Boy by Mirra Ginsburg

This book is an adaptation from a Russian fairy tale.  A grandfather made a boy out of clay to be a companion to he and his wife in their old age.  After he finishes the clay boy, the boy is alive and demanding food, but there isn’t enough in the poor grandfather’s home to satisfy the clay boy’s insatiable appetite.  The clay boy then swallows the couple, wanders outside and consumes their pets, and goes into the village and inhales more people, animals, wagons, and hay.  He grows larger and larger.  Then the clay boy meets what he thinks is an ordinary goat, but the goat is exceptionally clever and tricks the clay boy.  The end result is the demise of the greedy clay boy, freeing the townspeople and all that was swallowed.  The goat is the town hero, and all is well again.  Intriguing illustrations fill this book, and it is a great launching point for a discussion with kids on greed and its many pitfalls.

poverty, art, father, job, illnessThe Fantastic Drawings of Danielle by Barbara McClintock

A little girl is an artist with a vivid imagination.  The book is set in an earlier era.  Danielle and her father are poor, supported by his work as a photographer.  Her father sees her work as unusual but not very salable.  She wants him to be proud of her, so she tries to draw regular things, but find them boring.  When he becomes quite ill, she hits the streets, trying to do his work for him so they can survive.  Danielle discovers photography is a lot harder than it looks, when she tries to maneuver the tripod, and nearly breaks his camera.  One of her father’s regular buyers is an artist herself, and finds Danielle struggling on the street.  She invites the little girl in, and employs her as an assistant, mentoring her as an artist.  When Danielle returns home, she finds her father is recovering, and that he is proud of her.  A lovely story with the universal theme of children (any age) trying to make their parents proud of them and to get validation on their efforts.  The illustrations are charming and fit the feel of that era.