Pablo Picasso: Breaking All the Rules (Smart about the Arts) Paperback – 1 Dec 2002
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About the Author
True Kelley is the author-illustrator of"Who Was Pablo Picasso?"and the author of"Who Is Dolly Parton?," "Who Was Abigail Adams?," and"Who Was Roald Dahl?""
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Simon Packard is a student in Ms. Brandt's class, whose letter opens this book. The unit on famous artists is almost over and the students now must close the unit with a report on their assigned artist. Simon's twin brother chose Monet, Simon chose Picasso because his parents LOVE his art and have books and prints in every room in the house.
What a clever way to present the life and art of Pablo Picasso--through the eyes and pen of a student (whose age or grade is not disclosed). The book is his report/project, making this (to me) a definite plus in acquiring not only this book, but also all the other books in this series Smart About Art.
Whether you like or dislike Picasso's art will become irrelevant. What this book presents is a real feel for the man and his art and how and why the two developed. The book is a combination of narrative and art, plus the student/writer's evaluation of the two as the narrative unfolds. For example, Simon presents the Blue Period, a reason for it, and his own reaction through his painting of his cat who died (a "blue" painting).
One of my favorite sections was a two-page history of Picasso's wives and girlfriends simply presented with no ugly history. Another favorite is the next to last page. Simon tells how old Picasso was when he died (91) and how many works of art he created (over 50,000). But the stand-out is Simon's illustrating showing Picasso leaping through the air singing "To draw you must close your eyes and sing." Whether Picasso actually said this or Simon created it, this sentence wonderfully summarizes Picasso's modus operandi.
This is a book definitely worth adding to a school or public library for children, probably for ages 9-13.
There is a student in my school in the fourth grade who loves Picasso. His teacher made a display of some artwork concluding a Native American unit. Each child created a cactus with flowers. Thomas's was distorted. I told him his cactus looked like Cubism. His reply blew me away: "That's what it is supposed to be." I have been giving him books on artists since then (I'm the librarian). Wow! Like Simon's "art report" on Picasso, one never knows what students are capable of until they do it!
Anyway, I was looking for books to introduce the various masters to my students. I needed something clear, concise, and high-interest with lots of colorful pictures. (It's really gotta be something special to hold the attention of most first graders!:)). I browsed on Amazon and came across this series. The books looked like the perfect fit for what I needed, so I ordered several- Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh- and let me tell you, this is one of the best purchases I have made for my classroom! These books are amazing on so many levels. First, each book is written as a book report completed by a student. There is a brief note from the student at the beginning of the book that tells why he or she chose the particular artist to write his or her report on. My students never fail to be intrigued with the idea that a child, a student like themselves wrote the book. So, from the very start of our artist study, I am already having students ask if they can write about an artist too. If you are a teacher, you know that this kind of motivation is PRICELESS! Secondly, Throughout each book, child drawn pictures containing funny little observations about the artist accompany pictures of the artist's works. My students love these and want to pause to really examine and discuss them. The author draws comparisons and makes connections from his or her life to that of the artist. Making text -to self connections is an important reading comprehension skill , and these books model the process perfectly without being "teachy," which naturally leads students to make their own connections to the text and to the author and/or artist. Again-PRICELESS! Finally, the biographical information is detailed without being heavy or overly wordy. The author personalizes the artist in a way that makes children want to keep learning about him or her. This often leads to some amazing classroom discussions and some awesome exhibitions of higher-order and critical thinking.
I have used these books along with class created anchor charts to teach questioning, text-text compare/contrast, inferring, making connections, learning from illustrations vs. learning from text, etc. The possibilities are endless! If it sounds like I am gushing, it's because I AM! These books are simply amazing. Perhaps my favorite thing about the series is that students don't forget what they learned from them. The information in these books stays with them. About five or six months after we completed our main artists study, my students were painting flower pots for Mother's Day. One of my students commented on her fellow classmate's pot, saying,"I love your use of color on that. It is very beautiful." to which the other child replied, "Thank you. I have painted it in the style of Henri Matisse. See the designs here around the edge? Don't they remind you of some of his paper cut-outs?" She agreed that they did. That and other similar conversations have me sold for life. I hope these never go out of print. In fact, I am hoping to see more artists covered. I will buy every book I can find in this amazing series.