Review: Just Behave Pablo Picasso! by Jonah Winter


Just Behave, Pablo Picasso! by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes

Pablo Picasso started out painting just like everyone else, but when he started to paint his moods in colors, things started to change.  The gallery owners wanted more pictures in just the same style, and suddenly Picasso became wealthy and well know.  But Picasso was not interested in painting the same rose colored paintings again and again.  Instead, he becomes inspired by African masks and does a new painting that breaks all of the rules.  When it is unveiled, the reaction is strongly negative and it is called “ugly” by the critics.  When the entire world starts doubting him, Picasso works even harder, coming out with another painting that is the birth of modernism.  This book displays the strength needed to stay true to yourself all through the lens of the incredible Pablo Picasso.

Winter has not written a conventional picture book biography here.  Instead, he plays with the format.  He uses comic book techniques like BLAM! and has pages that range from just a sentence or two to ones that are lengthier and provide more information and insight into Picasso.  This biography is less about the details of his life and much more about his art and its inspiration and evolving style.  We learn nothing of his family, but much about his process and his drive.

Hawkes’ illustrations carry that same playful feeling forward.  He toys with perspective, enjoys depicting the close quarters in Paris with see-through walls.  It takes a certain amount of playfulness to take on a book about Picasso and not imitate his style in the illustrations.  Hawkes’ style remains true to himself, underlining the overall message of the book by doing so.

A creative and fun picture book biography about a vibrant and rebellious artist, this book should find a place in children’s nonfiction collections.  Appropriate for ages 6-8.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: Mooshka, a Quilt Story by Julie Paschkis


Mooshka, a Quilt Story by Julie Paschkis

Karla loved her quilt that her grandmother had made for her from scraps.   Karla had named the quilt Mooshka.  Mooshka kept her warm at night and smelled just right.  But the most special thing that Mooska could do was talk.  Mooshka would wish Karla sweet dreams and in the morning invite her to pancakes.  If Karla couldn’t sleep at night, Mooshka would tell her the story of any patch on the quilt.  There were playful stories from tablecloth scraps, romantic stories from a bandana, exciting stories from a red scrap.  When baby Hannah moved into Karla’s room, Karla was upset.  She tried to get Mooshka to soothe her with a story, but Mooshka would not speak.  Then when Hannah woke up crying and could not be settled, Karla found that Mooshka might be able to share stories with other people too.

Paschkis has created a book that speaks to the power of story and family.  There is a wonderful spirit of discovery and sharing throughout the book as family stories are shared.  The book has a circular feel, coming to a satisfying close that makes the circle complete.  This sense of place, history and story brings a richness to the book.

What is most distinctive about the book is its art.  Done in ink and gouache, each page is bordered in patchwork, giving the entire book a warm and cozy feel.  The patterns also offer a lot of color, making a feast for the eyes as each page is turned. 

A warm book about quilts, family and stories, this book is ideal for reading under your own quilt and sharing your family stories there.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Peachtree Publishers.