Confession: the real reason, the primary one, that I want to mention these books here at Hope Is the Word is because I am completely taken with Melissa Sweet‘s illustrations. Her illustrations alone would make these books worth a second glance in my opinion. However, when you combine Sweet’s detailed and beautiful collage-style illustrations to Jen Bryant‘s storytelling, what you have then is a very winning combo of story and pictures and the perfect way to introduce elementary aged children (well, anyone, really) to an artist and poet they might otherwise not learn about until much later.
A Splash of Red is the life story of Horace Pippin, an American folk artist whose life and art were hidden in obscurity until the artist N.C. Wyeth brought it to light. (Visit the book’s website to learn more about Horace Pippin.) What I really appreciate about Pippin’s life as communicated by this fabulous book is how he persevered in his art even after a war injury could’ve sidelined him permanently. This is such an interesting, inspirational, and beautifully rendered story, certainly worthy of the 2014 Schneider Family Book Award and the Sibert honor it received. Highly Recommended. (Alfred A. Knopf, 2013)
Art and poetry are two of my favorite things, so I was completely tickled to bring home another Bryant/ Sweet book from the library, this one a 2009 Caldecott honor-winning picture book biography of the poet William Carlos Williams. A River of Words relates the life of Willie Williams, the young dreamer who spent hours outdoors just listening to the rhythm and cadences of the Passaic River tumbling over rocks and ultimately cascading in a waterfall. Although he loved poetry, Williams ultimately became a doctor because “no one paid much money for poetry.” Of course, the urge to write was so strong in Williams that he often jotted down his thoughts on his prescription pad and wrote poetry late into the night. My girls were familiar with Williams’ poetry, specifically his poem “This Is Just To Say” thanks to Gail Carson Levine’s inspired-by collection, Forgive Me, I MeanTo Do It which we had read before during a poetry tea time. Both of these Bryant/Sweet books made a great addition to last week’s tea time, and I give them both a Highly Recommended. (Eerdmans, 2008)
I shall certainly have my eyes peeled for more books by this dynamic duo!