Radiant Child:Start with a careful look at the cover and see what details you notice. A flag from Puerto Rico on one side. Do you see the flag from Haiti on the other? We see several stars. The initials JMB. Do you notice the word "radiant", with the lines shining out from the R? Look closely and see the pieces of the painting put together, like shingles on the side of a building.
The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat
by Javaka Steptoe
Little, Brown, 2016
Your local library
*best new book*
Javaka Steptoe introduces children to Jean-Michel Basquiat, a modern American artist who was "known for his charisma, energy, and bold, captivating art." Steptoe focuses on Basquiat's childhood and entry into the art world, helping young readers see in themselves the potential for becoming professional artists. As a young child, Jean-Michel drew with passion and focus, drawing "from morning until night with a serious face amid a storm of papers".
"His drawings are not neat or clean, nor does he color inside the lines. They are sloppy, ugly, and sometimes weird, but somehow still BEAUTIFUL."Jean-Michel's mother encouraged him to create art from a young age, lying on the floor to draw alongside him. Jean-Michel was badly hurt in a car accident as a young boy, and art helped him heal. But when his mother suffered from mental illness and had to leave the family home, Jean-Michel was heart-broken. One of my students commented that Steptoe pieced together his paintings from scraps of wood the same way that Basquiat tried to piece together his life using art. Oh-wow-oh-wow, what a powerful idea.
"Basquiat's success seemed to me to begin an era of inclusion and diversity in fine arts where there had been little to none. This meant as a young African American artist coming up that my chances of having my voice heard and achieving mainstream success were majorly expanded...I wanted to help young people connect with his art the way that I had."This is a fascinating picture book, one that I've found myself going back to again and again. I'm excited to share it with our art teacher at school, hear what conversations she has with her students, and see the artwork they create after looking more closely at Basquiat's paintings. A striking and thoughtful look at a unique artist.
Illustrations © Javaka Steptoe 2016. The review copy was kindly sent by the publisher, Little Brown, and we have purchased multiple copies for our library. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.
©2016 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books