Kid Artists by David Stabler, illustrated by Doogie Horner [Quirk Books; recommended for ages 9-12] is subtitled "True Tales of Childhood from Creative Legends". There are three sections:
- Call of the Wild - describes artists who were inspired by nature,
- It's a Hard-Knock Life - Tells about artists who overcame obstacles like poverty, discrimination, bullying, and frequent moves, and
- Practice Makes Perfect - describes artists who had the great fortune of a mentor or family member who encouraged them.
There's some cross-over between the sections. For example, Frida Kahlo and Andy Warhol both received constant encouragement (so they're in the "Practice Makes Perfect" section) but also experienced the hardships of illness and bullying.
Each chapter provides a mini-bio of an artist that pays particular focus on the challenges and advantages the artists experienced as children. They're very basic bios and some of the artists were unknown to me. In those cases, I ended up going online to read more and view images of their works, which I love. I adore a book that stimulates enough interest to convince you that you must learn more and I can easily visualize how Kid Artists could be used in a classroom for just that purpose.
The stated age range for the book is 9-12 years old. I'd go beyond that in either direction. You could read a chapter per day to a younger crowd and coordinate with an art teacher or individually come up with inexpensive ways to mimic an artist's style. Or, for older students, the ideas could range from doing reports to more serious art projects. Homeschoolers and those who are looking for do-at-home projects could easily create an entire art unit around the book.
Recommended - Don't expect in-depth descriptions; the chapters are reasonably brief and leave out plenty of details of each author's life. It's purpose is to show that those whom we know to have succeeded in art had challenges to deal with just like the rest of us. I think it serves the purpose well and is a great resource. I love the idea that Kid Artists can be used as a jumping-off point for projects. I'm well past the intended age range because I'm a boring old grown-up, but love the idea of trying to imitate some of the artists' styles, just for fun. You're never too old to play.
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