When I am famous…

Steptoe, Javaka. Radiant Child: the Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2016.
Brilliant double-page illustrations help tell the true story of a collage-style New York artist who died of a drug overdose in 1988 at the age of 27. The colour, energy, and detail in Steptoe’s paintings are astonishing.  An afterward tells more about both Basquiat and Steptoe and could be used to start all sorts of discussions about the effects of childhood experiences and the nature of creativity. This sophisticated picture book – winner of the Caldecott Medal – is highly recommended for artists of all ages.

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Living Through War

McMullan, James. Leaving China: An Artist Paints His World War II Childhood. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: Algonquin, 2014.

Do you ever feel like you’re not quite good enough? That you can’t ever please your parents? That you don’t belong anywhere? Read this memoir about an artist who grew up moving from country to country – from China to Canada to India and finally to the U.S.A. – and who is now a highly acclaimed designer and illustrator. This 113-page autobiography with full-page illustrations is recommended for readers 10 years old and up.

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Hans Christian Andersen

Varmer, Hjordis. Hans Christian Andersen: His Fairy Tale Life. Toronto: Groundwood Books, 2005.
An 11-chapter 111-page biography of the famous writer of fairy tales. Elegantly written by a renowned Danish children’s book author and beautifully illustrated by an award-winning artist, this book is highly recommended for inquisitive readers 10 years old and up. Translated from Danish.

“So you see, good can come even out of old rags, once they leave the rag heap and are transformed into paper on which truth and beauty are written.” – The Rags

Yolen, Jane. The Perfect Wizard: Hans Christian Andersen. New York: Dutton’s Children’s Books, 2004.

Quotations from Andersen’s fairy tales and full-page illustrations by Dennis Nolan accompany this lovely picture book biography highly recommended for readers 7 to 14 years of age.  

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 “Come close, I want to tell you a story about luck. To some it comes daily, to others once a year. A few may be lucky only once in their lifetime. But we all have good fortune at least once.” – Luck Can Be Found in a Stick

Don’t Stop Questioning

“The important thing is not to stop questioning.”
Albert Einstein

Meltzer, Brad. I Am Albert Einstein. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers, 2014.
This small biography is part of the charming picture book series ‘Ordinary People Change the World’. Told from the first person point of view and illustrated in cartoon style by Christopher Eliopoulos, each volume provides an overview of a famous person while focusing on a specific character trait. In this story, the focus is on curiosity. Black and white photos of Einstein, a time line, and a bibliography conclude this biography recommended for readers 8 to 14 years old. [Einstein, Albert; Physicists]

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