Books About Famous Artists
Just Behave, Pablo Picasso! by Jonah Winter (Author), Kevin Hawkes (Illustrator). Great picture book about how Picasso stood up to harsh criticism to become one of the greatest painters of the Twentieth Century. It makes his story exciting. I wish I had written it.
Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art by Barb Rosenstock (Author) and Mary GrandPre (Illustrator). A picture book story about the condition of synesthesia and how accepting the condition helped Kandinsky become the pioneer of abstract art.
When Pigasso Met Mootisse is Nina Laden’s classic book about, well, the meeting and artistic rivalry between Picasso and Matisse. Full of puns and an absolute delight. As fresh now as when it came out in 1998.
Beatrix Potter and Her Paint Box by David McPhail tells how Beatrix got a point box when she was young and how that inspired her.
Through Georgia’s Eyes by Rachel Rodriguez (Author) and Julie Paschkis (Illustrator). Very pretty picture book about Georgia O’Keefe.
The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau written by Michelle Merkel, illustrated by Amanda Hall. A picture book that tells us its never too late to teach yourself how to paint.
My Name Is Georgia by Jeanette Winter. Very nice book about Georgia O’Keefe.
Books About Color, Creativity or the Art Room
Swatch: The Girl Who Loved Color by Julia Denos is–surprise–about color. Swatch lives where colors run wild. She attempts to tame them and put them in jars until the day she meets Yellowest Yellow, who does NOT want to be tamed (and is a little fierce). Author/illustrator Julia Denos has illustrated several children’s books and says the hardest question for her to answer is “What is your favorite color?” This delightful book is her answer. Preschool – Grade 2.
Vincent Paints His House by Tedd Arnold. Cute book about color. It teaches kids in a fun way that every basic color has at least four versions (e.g., red can be rose, crimson, scarlet, or vermilion).
Too Much Glue by Jason Lefebvre (writer) and Zac Retz. This made me laugh! It’s not really about art; it’s about what can happen in art class. Great twist at the end.
Other Great Books
Daniel Finds a Poem by Micha Archer. Beautifully illustrated book addresses the question, “What is Poetry?” The book’s answer ties everything together in a neat way. I love that it is a boy finding poetry and that, in the next book below, a woman is navigating the high seas.
Dare the Wind: The Record-Breaking Voyage of Eleanor Prentiss and the Flying Cloud written by Tracey Fern and illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully. This is an exciting read and I couldn’t put it down. Eleanor became a great navigator and she led her husband’s boat from New York, around Cape Horn and on to San Francisco in record-breaking time. Storms, broken masts, a woman winning by skill and guts and a quicker grasp of science than competing navigators! The language is beautiful. Here is one example: “Ellen’s heart raced like a riptide….” The illustrations are perfect. Did I say I like this book? I do. A lot!
Chalk by Bill Thomson. You don’t “read” this exciting book–the pictures give the whole story. It is almost like a movie and gets just scary enough. The illustrations make me wish I could draw!
The Song of Delphine by Kenneth Kraegel. Cinderella meets Where The Wild Things Are. Lovely book. Magical trips on giraffes.
Drum Dream Girl. How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Rafael Lopez. Picture book about Millo Castro Zaldarriaga who, in 1932, overturned the Cuban tradition that only boys could play drums. She became a world famous musician.
In a Village by the Sea, written by Muon Van and illustrated by April Chu features (in one part) a cricket who paints up a storm that endangers the fisherman-father. It gives young readers a sense of the risky lives of fishermen and their families. But the story has a good ending and the illustrations are very beautiful. I really like that the book is not “saccharine:” we do not see the father come home safely, it is implied by the art. Great book to spark conversation with your child!
Math at the Art Museum is written by Group Majoongmul and illustrated by Yun-ju Kim. The book is primarily pedagogical (rather than a gripping story like the other books on this page). I include it because there are too few books that combine art and math and because I really liked the painting the book uses to illustrate symmetry: Praying Mother and Son Rock Formation by Kim Jae-hong.
The Hare & the Hedgehog is the classic story by the Brothers Grimm. This version was recently published with gorgeous illustrations by Jonas Laustroer. Not directly about art, but a beautiful book.
Clowns On Vacation by Nina Laden. Hey, its Nina Laden. Do I need to say more?
Langston’s Train Ride by Robert Burleigh (Author) and Leonard Jenkins (Illustrator). A picture book that captures how creativity strikes. It is about the moment that inspired one of Hughes’ most famous early poems.