Written by Jen Bryant
Illustrated by Melissa Sweet
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2013
Themes: biography, Horace Pippin, artist
Awards: A Robert F. Sibert Honor Book
Winner of the Schneider Family Book Award
An ALA-ALSC Notable Children’s Book
Winner of the NCTE Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for
On february 22, 1888, the town of West Chester, Pensylvania, celebrated a holiday. That day, in that same town, Daniel and Christine Pippin celebrated the birth of their son, Horace.
“As a child in the late 1800s, Horace Pippin loved to draw: He loved the feel of the charcoal as it slid across the floor. He loved looking at something in the room and making it come alive again in front of him.He drew pictures for his sisters, his classmates, his co-workers. Even during W.W.I, Horace filled his notebooks with drawings from the trenches . . . until he was shot. Upon his return home, Horace couldn’t lift his right arm, and couldn’t make any art. Slowly, with lots of practice, he regained use of his arm, until once again, he was able to paint–and paint, and paint! Soon, people—including the famous painter N. C. Wyeth—started noticing Horace’s art, and before long, his paintings were displayed in galleries and museums across the country.’
Why I like this book:
Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet collaborate again, going on road trips together to deepen their research. There is a detailed list of further reading on the final page indicating the depth of their own research. This is a book birthed from real passion about an artist not simply idle curiosity or the desire to sell a picture book, and you sense this from the warmth of the text and the attention to detail of the art both in the pictures and quotes used to illustrate the pages. It is an inspiring story of a self-taught painter from humble beginnings who despite many obstacles, was ultimately able to do what he loved, and be recognized for who he was: an artist of extraordinary talent. The echo of, “Make us a picture, Horace.” from fellow-soldiers, co-workers and friends, testifies to the talent from an early age of Horace Pippin. He was able to turn the harsh and brutal realities of life and simple every day scenes and objects into breathtaking works of art. This is a super introduction for children to a great American artist and a story of dogged perseverance.
The rear end pages show a map of all the places in the States where you can see Horace Pippin’s art.
Random House has produced a teacher’s guide for the book.
Every Friday, authors and Kidlit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the perfect picture books with resources, please visit Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.