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.