Before I Grew Up by John Miller

Cover image for Before I Grew Up.

Before I Grew Up by John Miller, illustrated by Giuliano Cucco (9781592703616)

This surreal picture book takes the paintings of the late Giuliano Cucco and uses them to tell the story of his childhood. Cucco’s journey to becoming an artist is shown in his creativity as a child. From games he played with his mother to imagining paper boats he made floating away. His father was a scientist who studied light and preferred to spend time alone. Cucco spent time in his mother’s garden, dreaming and imagining as he lay surrounded by flowers. Sent to the city to live with his aunt and uncle, the book becomes more surreal and wild with a moon rising out of a box, swinging priests, and doves saved from the dinner plate. Returning to the country, he reconnected with the land and water of his childhood, creating paintings of ocean, violins, and the landscape.

This tribute of a picture book is one that celebrates the creativity of childhood and how allowing unfettered time and space allow that creativity to carry into adulthood. Miller uses his words as a minimal framework to offer a glimpse of the artist’s life and also to share his work. It is those paintings that truly tell the story, sharing emotions through the art. From darker moments to those filled with inspiration and light. The art is whimsical at times, literal at others.

A lovely surreal look at an artist, creativity and childhood. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy provided by Enchanted Lion.

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