Goodreads: Kid Artists: True Tales of Childhood from Creative Legends
Source: Quirk Books for Review
Publication Date: August 9, 2016
The series that began with Kid Presidents and Kid Athletes has a new volume that chronicles the childhoods of 16 celebrated artists—everyone from Claude Monet and Vincent van Gogh to Mary Cassat, Frida Kahlo, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and even Dr. Seuss! Readers will learn:
- Georgia O’Keeffe was so enthralled by nature that she once ate dirt just to see what it tasted like.
- Jackson Pollock lost the top of his right index finger in a childhood accident (and the severed tip was eaten by a rooster!).
- Andy Warhol’s favorite childhood lunch was—what else?—a bowl of Campbell’s tomato soup.
Every scribble, sketch, and sticky situation comes to life in these kid-friendly and relatable stories, all with Doogie Horner’s trademark full-color illustrations. Kid Artists is a delight for budding artists and eager readers alike
Kid Artists introduces readers to a number of famous artists as children, telling compelling stories about how they practiced their art or where they learned to love it. A variety of artists from different background and styles ensures there’s an artist who will appeal to everyone.
Interestingly, the book does seem to assume some knowledge of the artists in question, even though it’s quite likely this could be many young readers’ first introduction to a few of the figures. Some of the mini bios do a nice job of alluding to what the artists are known for, while not getting too bogged down in details: Georgia O’Keefe is known for her flowers or Jean-Michel Basquiat is known for his graffiti-style art. However, the only real allusion to Jackson Pollack’s style is a cute cartoon of him looking thoughtfully at the wall of a mud-splattered pig sty. Yoko Ono’s entry has one line at the end explaining she became known for Conceptual art; otherwise, the entry emphasizes her pacifism. Basically, the discussion of their actual art is a little uneven, and I think could use just a few more revisions to give everyone a similar level of detail.
The book is also a bit more random than Kid Athletes in the sense that not all the stories seem to have an immediately clear connection with the artists’ later work (though arguably one’s entire life would influence one’s art). Kid Athletes seemed to have a bit more material to work with in the way of forming neat story arcs: “This kid was discouraged from playing sports for whatever reason but tried his best/practiced a lot/found a mentor and became a successful athlete later.” Kid Artists has some stories like that, but it also has some entries that seem to be just about strange things that happened to the artists in their childhoods. They’re still really engaging stories, however, and I think there is a good mix of stories that are about artists overcoming challenges related directly to art, artists overcoming other challenges like sickness, and artists who were pretty much like ordinary kids except they loved to draw.
The artwork, as with Kid Athletes, is charming and cartoony and just a bit clever. There’s an image of Charles Schulz sitting in a little booth selling art for 5 cents and an image of Andy Warhol’s mother offering him a choice of various different canned soups for lunch. Most of these clever nods will probably speak mainly to readers already familiar with the artists, but that’s not unimaginable for the book; I assume, while this will be an intro to artists for some readers, other children will pick this up because they’re already interested in artists and have read lots about them before. And the pictures are still good illustrations for the stories, even if the reader doesn’t get the little joke.
Kid Artists is a quick, fun read that will show readers great artists started out just as kids and that working hard for what you want can really pay off.