Selected and annotated by Tad Andracki
Items in this bibliography were selected to complement the themes of the Krannert Art Museum’s Week at the Museum program (KAM-WAM). You’ll find books for all ages here, though, covering topics as diverse as artist biographies, young art enthusiasts, museum adventures, and cultural artifacts you might find in KAM.
Bernier-Grand, Carmen T. Diego: Bigger than Life. Illus. by David Diaz. Cavendish, 2009. 64p. Gr. 5-8.
This remarkable book recalls Mexican painter Diego Rivera’s whirlwind life in thirty-four free-verse poems, written from Rivera’s point of view. The topics covered in include Rivera’s artistic life from early to late, stories of his lovers and wives, his escape to Europe while his own country was in political upheaval, and his own political life. Some reproductions of Rivera’s art are included, along with papel picado-esque illustrations from Diaz.
Bradbury, Jennifer. Wrapped. Atheneum, 2011. 309p. Gr. 7-10.
Agnes Wilkins is poised on the upper crust of British society when a dashing museum worker helps her spice up her life: a trinket she steals from a mummy-unwrapping event contains a curse—and secret message regarding Napoleon’s place for advancing on Britain! This novel deftly combines Egyptian mythology, British regency, and a smattering of romance for a thoroughly engaging and informative read.
Bryan, Ashley. Words to My Life’s Song. Illus. by Ashley Bryan and with photographs by Bill McGuinness. Atheneum, 2009. 58p. Gr. 4-7.
Noted illustrator Ashley Bryan invites young readers into the world of the Maine island where the artist lives. Juxtaposing reproductions of Bryan’s work with photos of the landscape, the artist’s work process, and the artist’s other unique works—like found-object puppets—this book encourages young minds with both art as a career and art as a way of looking at the world.
Burleigh, Robert. George Bellows: Painter with a Punch! Abrams, 2012. 40p. Gr. 3-6.
Burleigh takes middle-graders by the hand and takes them on a street tour of New York—and through the art of George Bellows. Kids are drawn through grimy pubs, busy construction sites, and crowded streets with reproductions of Bellows’ work, as they’re shown the inspiration the painter found in the day-to-day, or even seedy, city.
Carter, Ally. Heist Society. Disney/Hyperion, 2010. 287p. Gr. 6-10.
Kat Bishop’s your average fifteen-year-old girl: a sidekick-cum-love interest, school problems, and a family business she’s supported for years. Except that the family business is high-stakes art theft! Now that her father has been falsely accused of stealing art from Mafioso Arturo Taccone (of course, who had already stolen it himself), her only recourse to clear her (this time) innocent father’s name is to steal the already re-stolen paintings. Carter brings together zany twists and turns, nail-biting break-ins, and non-didactic information about provenance and artwork stolen during the Holocaust in this engaging novel.
Collins, Ross. Doodleday. Illus. by Ross Collins. Whitman, 2011. 32p. 5-8 yrs.
Harvey doesn’t listen to his mom when she tells him that “No one draws on Doodleday”—and he ends up paying the consequences. Doodleday, you see, is the day that drawings come to life, and Harvey’s innocent sketch of a fly ends up with a giant squid threatening to destroy his neighborhood. His cries for help don’t go unheard, though, and the day is saved when his mom is able to draw together the right solution. This is an excellent book to introduce young artists to the power of their craft, and the chaos-wreaking sketches will have all young readers in stitches.
Cullen, Lynn. I Am Rembrandt’s Daughter. Bloomsbury, 2007. 307p. Gr. 6-9.
Cullen tells the story of Rembrandt’s out-of-wedlock daughter, Cornelia, through her own eyes, trying to solve the mystery of why he never married her mother, even as a widower. Cornelia’s story is mostly one of romance—she has naïve flirtations with a wealthy art dealer, but ends up falling for her father’s apprentice—but there’s also interest in her attempts to deal with her father’s antisocial behavior and keep him from going broke. Themes and content of Rembrandt paintings are interspersed throughout the text, but no reproductions are offered, leaving readers to trace them down for themselves.
Daly, Niki. Bettina Valentino and the Picasso Club. Farrar, 2009. 104p. Gr. 4-6.
Mr. Peppard—better known as Mr. Popart—is a huge hit at Bayside Prep, especially with fifth-grader Bettina Valentino. He’s talented, dashing, and exciting, so his art class is hanging on to his every word about Cubism, Expressionism, and, of course, Pop Art. Mr. Popart teaches his students to really look at art and find the works that speak to them. But when Maxine Rattles reports him for sharing some of Matisse’s nudes with the class, Mr. Popart finds himself in hot water. What will the fifth graders do?
Hartland, Jessie. How the Sphinx Got to the Museum. Blue Apple, 2010. 40p. 6-9 yrs.
This picture book with bouncy narration tells young readers the story of a sphinx commissioned by pharaoh Hatshepsut from creation to its coming to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The behind-the-scenes look at museums—and art—not only can help answer the more obvious question “How did this get here?” but also provides a fascinating look at one object’s detailed history.
LaFevers, R.L. Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos. Houghton, 2007. 352p. Gr. 5-8.
What with her mom in Egypt hunting down treasures and her curator father too absent minded to take her home for bed, Theodosia Throckmorton basically lives at her parent’s small museum, banishing the haunts and curses in the museum’s valuables. But when her mom comes home with a cursed object even she can’t handle—the Heart of Egypt—she knows she has to get it back to where it belongs. Accompanied by her brother and a pickpocket, she travels to Egypt to return the amulet. Will she make it? Or will the entire British Empire collapse?
Lichtenheld, Tom. Bridget’s Beret. Illus. by Tom Lichtenheld. Ottaviano/Holt, 2010. 34p. 6-9 yrs.
Bridget’s an unstoppable artist—she works with paintbrushes, markers, crayons, anything. But when her black beret goes missing, she’s sure her drawing talent has gone with it. Can she ever get over her artist’s block and find her muse again?
Lin, Grace. Dumpling Days. Little, 2012. 264p. Gr. 4-6.
When Pacy’s parents take her on a trip to Taiwan for a month to visit her family for an entire month, she ends up a little frustrated. She can’t speak Taiwanese, and the country is a bit of a culture shock. Meanwhile, her mother’s signed her up for a class on Chinese painting, and Pacy’s American art skills just aren’t cutting it. This book has wide appeal: it will resonate with those who don’t fit in, those who want to experience a foreign country, and those who get a bit frustrated when something new doesn’t go the way they expect it.
Look, Lenore. Polka Dot Penguin Pottery. Illus. by Yumi Heo. Schwartz & Wade, 2011. 36p. 6-9 yrs.
Aspen’s grandparents mean well when they try to distract her from her writer’s block by taking her to a paint-it-yourself pottery studio. When Aspen sits down, the blank pottery is just as daunting to her as her blank pages, and when she starts, she’s convinced she’s ruined the painting from the first stroke. But with some prodding, she finds that she’s able to inspire herself, get her muse back, and get back to the crafts she loves so well.
Oldham, Todd. Kid Made Modern. AMMO, 2009. 188p. Gr. 4-8.
This book connects modern art with do-it-yourself craft projects, organized by artist. The author tries to capture the particular style of an artist, then springs forward creatively with several unique ideas: Alexander Calder inspires not only mobiles, but also bent-wire flowers. The ideas provided don’t give much instruction and many will require adult hands, but there’s a lot of ideas to try, or at least admire.
Rogers, Gregory. The Hero of Little Street. Illus. by Gregory Rogers. Porter/Roaring Brook, 2012. 34p. Gr. 2-4.
Rogers, without words, brings to life a London boy who, in a rush to escape some bullies he’s irked, runs into a museum and hops right through a painting into seventeenth-century Holland. The boy gets into trouble in Delft, as well, though, and has to make a mad dash out another painting back into London. The book pays homage to the Dutch masters and the citizens of Holland whom they’ve painted through the colorful illustrations.
Rollins, James. Jake Ransom and the Skull King’s Shadow. HarperCollins, 2009. 399p. Gr. 5-8.
Jake’s been itching to become an archaeologist ever since his parents (also archaeologists) disappeared on an expedition, and he wants to figure out where they’ve gone. When he and his sister are invited to visit an exhibition of Mayan artifacts his parents investigated, they’re whisked off into a long-lost land of people from all kinds of ancient times and cultures. They’re impressed, until they realize the land is threatened by the evil Skull King. It’s action-packed, museum-y adventure at its finest.
Rubin, Susan Goldman. Whaam!: The Art and Life of Roy Lichtenstein. Abrams, 2008. 47p. Gr. 4-8.
This eye-catching biography gives a solid overview of Roy Lichtenstein’s life, but the main focus here is the artist’s signature larger-than-life work. Detailed explanations of Lichtenstein’s process for developing his comics art, as well as other works, are accompanied with generously sized reproductions. This is a sure-fire biographical sell for all kinds of readers.
Runholt, Susan. The Mystery of the Third Lucretia. Viking, 2008. 288p. Gr. 7-10.
Kari and her best friend Lucas think it’s kind of odd that, while travelling with Kari’s magazine writer mom, they get yelled at by the same artist twice—while he’s working in two different museums halfway across the world. As he tries to cover up the painting he’s working on, the two copy what they can see. When it’s announced a new Rembrandt has been discovered in Holland, the two realize exactly what this strange man has been up to. Can Kari and Lucas expose the forger in this mystery with both art and detective elements?
Sandell, Lisa Ann. A Map of the Known World. Scholastic, 2009. 304p. Gr.7-10.
Artistically inclined cartographer Cora’s having a hard time dealing with the death of her older brother Nate. When she arrives at the high school where Nate earned a reputation as a troublemaker, she’s irked by the appearance of Damian, Nate’s bad-boy friend, in her life. But as she realizes that Damian and Nate were both artists too, she begins to fall for Damian as they explore art in various ways, including as a management for their grief.
Say, Allen. Drawing from Memory. Scholastic, 2011. 64p. Gr. 5-9.
Allen Say is a Caldecott-winning artist and illustrator who tells his life story in this book. From growing up in Japan during the midst of war, to his apprenticeship under distinguished cartoonist Noro Shinpei, Say documents the ways in which art became his passion, and, later, his life.
Selznick, Brian. The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Scholastic, 2007. Illus. by Brian Selznick. 544p. Gr. 5-8.
This artistic masterpiece tells the story of a young boy eking out a living winding clocks in a train station, all while obsessively restoring an automaton his deceased father found in a museum. When a local toymaker catches Hugo stealing and takes his father’s notebook, Hugo’s determine to get it back, and is thrust into the world of silent films. Hundreds of pencil drawings move the story forward wordlessly, intricately interspersed with the text of the novel.
Winter, Jeanette. Kali’s Song. Schwartz & Wade, 2012. 40p. 5-7 yrs.
Kali, a boy from “thousands and thousands and thousands of years ago,” gets a bow so that he can become a great hunter as he grows up. But instead, he finds that the bow has another use—making music. When the time comes to go hunt, everyone is shocked when his artistry entrances and soothes the mammoths they’re hunting. This is a beautiful picture book about both a culture and time long ago and the value of unexpected and visionary talent.
Winter, Jonah. Gertrude Is Gertrude Is Gertrude Is Gertrude. Illus. by Calef Brown. Atheneum, 2009. 40p. 8-12 yrs.
An offbeat biography of Gertrude Stein and her circle of friends in modern art (Picasso, Matisse, Toklas, and Hemingway), this book encourages readers to take joy in exploring art. It not only covers some of the major artistic accomplishments of the modernists, but it also takes on some of the more difficult questions about modern art: “Those crazy pictures sure are crazy. Who cares? A picture is a picture. It can be whatever it wants to be.”