Tag Archives: art

Stumbling on History by Fern Schumer Chapman

Stumbling on History: An Art Project Compels a Small German Town to Face Its Past by Fern Schumer Chapman. August 1, 2016. Gussie Rose Press, 56 p. ISBN: 9780996472524.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 7.4.

“Who will remember?”

Edith Westerfeld, an 89-year-old Holocaust refugee, wonders if the memory of the Nazis murdering her parents, along with millions if other victims, will outlive the survivors. Now — 76 years after Edith’s parents saved their daughter’s life by sending her, alone and terrified, to America — she returns to the small German town where her family had lived for hundreds of years. Invited to witness the installation of a memorial to her family — part of an effort throughout Europe to confront the genocide of World War II — she experiences how art is helping today’s generation face and atone for crimes of the past.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Harsh realities of the Holocaust, Antisemitism, Anti-Romani sentiment, Xenophobia

 

 

About the Author

Critically acclaimed Chicago-based writer Fern Schumer Chapman has written several award-winning books. Her memoir, Motherland — a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection, a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award, and a BookSense76 pick — is a popular choice for book clubs. Her two other books, Is It Night or Day? and Like Finding My Twin, are used in middle and high school classrooms. In 2004, the Illinois Association of Teachers of English (IATE) named Chapman the “Illinois Author of the Year.” Twice, Oprah Winfrey shows have featured her books. Her latest work, Stumbling on History, was released in September 2016.

Her website is fernschumerchapman.com

Teacher Resources

Stumbling on History Teaching Guide

Around the Web

Stumbling on History on Amazon

Stumbling on History on Goodreads

Stumbling on History on JLG

Stumbling on History Publisher Page

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The Shape of Ideas by Grant Snider

The Shape of Ideas: An Illustrated Exploration of Creativity by Grant Snider. April 18, 2017. Abrams ComicArts, 144 p. ISBN: 9781419723179.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD.

What does an idea look like? And where do they come from? Grant Snider’s illustrations will motivate you to explore these questions, inspire you to come up with your own answers and, like all Gordian knots, prompt even more questions. Whether you are a professional artist or designer, a student pursuing a creative career, a person of faith, someone who likes walks on the beach, or a dreamer who sits on the front porch contemplating life, this collection of one- and two-page comics will provide insight into the joys and frustrations of creativity, inspiration, and process—no matter your age or creative background.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Allusions to alcohol use; Allusion to sex

 

Reviews

Library Journal – web only (May 26, 2017)
This volume compiles comics from Snider’s popular website, IncidentalComics.com. In brief pieces, many comprising a single page, Snider offers a touch of inspiration and observational humor for just about anyone struggling creatively. Each chapter addresses the various factors involved in achieving a personal goal, whether contemplation by way of thoughtful reflection or exploration through steadfast questioning. The subjects can be applied to everyone and include procrastination, multitasking, and lack of motivation. The simple yet colorful drawings are a perfect fit for the down-to-earth advice. Verdict A wonderful addition to the self-help shelf and for anyone seeking encouragement with a dose of wit.-Lucy Roehrig, Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., MI

Publishers Weekly (May 15, 2017)
Bold and colorful comics illustrations highlight this inspirational guide to artistic and everyday creation, focusing on sparking light-bulb-over-the-head moments through short reflections on practical and mental exploration. An orthodontist who practices cartooning and illustration on the side, Snider uses gentle and playful humor to explore subjects from the concrete (life drawing and typography) to the abstract (writer’s block and doing nothing). Although Snider’s whimsical and cheerful panels don’t paint a specific narrative, the comics format is well suited to these concepts: a page on multitasking introduces more and more objects to each static panel until they overwhelm; “How to Climb a Hill” quirkily brainstorms the Sisyphus conundrum by considering how get a stubborn tapir up a mountain. The tongue-in-cheek wit and self-deprecating style make this a pleasant introduction to the joy and frustration of making any kind of art, and the beautifully designed presentation-with a charming die-cut cover-is a fine proof of concept.

About the Author

Grant Snider is an artist with an attempt to master words and drawings. His current profession is being an orthodontist. His work has appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Kansas City Star, The Best American Comics 2013, and all across the internet.

He currently resides in Wichita, Kansas with his wife, daughter, and two sons.

Her website is www.grantsnider.com.

Around the Web

The Shape of Ideas on Amazon

The Shape of Ideas on Goodreads

The Shape of Ideas on JLG

The Shape of Ideas Publisher Page

You’re Welcome Universe by Whitney Gardner

You’re Welcome Universe by Whitney Gardner. March 7, 2017. Knopf Books for Young Readers, 304 p. ISBN: 9780399551420.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 610.

A vibrant, edgy, fresh new YA voice for fans of More Happy Than Not and Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, packed with interior graffiti.

When Julia finds a slur about her best friend scrawled across the back of the Kingston School for the Deaf, she covers it up with a beautiful (albeit illegal) graffiti mural.

Her supposed best friend snitches, the principal expels her, and her two mothers set Julia up with a one-way ticket to a “mainstream” school in the suburbs, where she’s treated like an outcast as the only deaf student. The last thing she has left is her art, and not even Banksy himself could convince her to give that up.

Out in the ’burbs, Julia paints anywhere she can, eager to claim some turf of her own. But Julia soon learns that she might not be the only vandal in town. Someone is adding to her tags, making them better, showing off—and showing Julia up in the process. She expected her art might get painted over by cops. But she never imagined getting dragged into a full-blown graffiti war.

Told with wit and grit by debut author Whitney Gardner, who also provides gorgeous interior illustrations of Julia’s graffiti tags, You’re Welcome, Universe introduces audiences to a one-of-a-kind protagonist who is unabashedly herself no matter what life throws in her way.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language; Graffiti

 

Reviews

Booklist (February 15, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 12))
Grades 8-10. Julia does graffiti art to elevate the spaces and people around her. She won’t stop, even when a piece obscuring a slur about her friend Jordyn on the wall of Kingston School for the Deaf gets Julia expelled, and Jordyn doesn’t even care. At public high school, Julia gains an interpreter who tattles on Julia to both of her moms, the unwanted adoration of a bubbly girl she dubs YP (for Yoga Pants), the ire of just about everyone else, and an insatiable urge to continue her risky art form. When YP persists in her efforts at friendship, Julia begins to let her guard down, bringing YP into her world of tagging and eventually learning that YP has some secrets of her own. Julia’s motivations are complex, and the intersectionality of her character is appealingly realistic. Gardner brings together Deaf culture, discrimination, sexuality, friendship, body image, trust, betrayal, and even a potential Banksy spotting for this fresh novel, brightened by black-and-white illustrations from Julia’s notebooks.

Kirkus Reviews (December 1, 2016)
A deaf, Indian-American teen with a flair for graffiti learns how to make her mark. With two deaf moms, a deaf school, and Jordyn, her deaf best friend, Julia Prasad has always been unapologetically deaf. But when she paints graffiti over a slur about Jordyn and is expelled, she’s thrust into the chaos of mainstream high school with a patronizing interpreter, clueless teachers, and persistent bullying. Spoken dialogue is broken by blank lines, representing the words she realistically can’t lip-read. Graffiti, despite its illegality, is her only outlet besides art class. Julia’s cynical wit is augmented by illustrations of her work, which reveals the parts of her personality that English and her rebellious exterior can’t express. ASL signs emphasize her points. When she discovers that her work is being altered, she enters a risky graffiti war as she looks for the culprit. Meanwhile, she befriends “Yoga Pants,” an overeager white girl, in spite of herself. Several red herrings later, the culprit forces her to evaluate the differences between art and vandalism and between listening and hearing. Eating disorders, racism, and homophobia are mentioned in passing. In scenes that smack of wish fulfillment, iconic street artist Banksy makes a cameo appearance. Julia’s strong voice and multifaceted background offer an eye-catching glimpse of graffiti culture while introducing deaf culture. (Fiction. 14-18)

About the Author

Whitney Gardner is an author, illustrator, and coffee addict. Originally from New York, she studied design and worked as an art teacher and school librarian before moving to Portland, Oregon, where she lives by a bridge with her husband and two pugs. In the rare moment Whitney isn’t writing or drawing, she’s likely to be reading comics, knitting, and tending her garden or apiary. You’re Welcome, Universe is her debut novel.

Her website is heywhitney.com.

Around the Web

You’re Welcome Universe on Amazon

You’re Welcome Universe on Goodreads

You’re Welcome Universe on JLG

You’re Welcome Universe Publisher Page

Fire Color One by Jenny Valentine

Fire Color One by Jenny Valentine.January 31, 2017. Philomel Books, 240 p. ISBN: 9780399546921.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

A father and daughter reconnect after a life spent apart to find their mutual love of art isn’t the only thing they share.

Sixteen-year-old Iris itches constantly for the strike of a match. But when she’s caught setting one too many fires, she’s whisked away to London before she can get arrested—at least that’s the story her mother tells. Mounting debt actually drove them out of LA, and it’s greed that brings them to a home Iris doesn’t recognize, where her millionaire father—a man she’s never met—lives. Though not for much longer.

Iris’s father is dying, and her mother is determined to claim his life’s fortune, including his priceless art collection. Forced to live with him as part of an exploitive scheme, Iris soon realizes her father is far different than the man she’s been schooled to hate, and everything she thought she knew—about her father and herself—is suddenly unclear. There may be hidden beauty in Iris’s uncertain past, and future, if only she can see beyond the flames.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mention of prostitution; Sexual themes

 

Video Book Reviews

Reviews

Booklist (November 1, 2016 (Vol. 113, No. 5))
Grades 9-12. Iris is only truly happy when she’s watching fire. She’s certainly not happy spending time with her vain, indifferent mother or her fame-hungry stepdad. And she isn’t pleased to be dragged across the ocean to meet the father who abandoned her—even if he is dying. She quickly learns, however, the stories she was told about her dad might not be the whole truth. Iris and her father bond over a shared knowledge of art (he is an accomplished buyer), forging a connection beyond blood. Valentine (Me, the Missing, and the Dead, 2008) has composed a beautifully written exploration of the longing to know where one comes from, tempered by a fear of rejection. The story authentically captures both Iris’ exhilaration when she’s transfixed by a flame, and her pain and confusion as she forges a relationship with a man about whom she’s never heard a good word. This is a quiet, reflective novel that blooms into a thrilling mystery, and its complex family dynamics will appeal to fans of Jenny Downham’s Unbecoming (2016).

Kirkus Reviews starred (October 15, 2016)
In any family, not everything is as it seems, but in Iris’ family, this is a big problem.When white, 16-year-old Iris meets her father for the first time, he is dying. That doesn’t stop her from feeling ambivalent. She has no memories of him and has been told all her life by her mother that he left 12 years ago because he wasn’t interested in being a dad. She doesn’t even want to meet him, but her mother insists because of the potential for a valuable inheritance. Iris has had no experience with positive parenting role models. Her mother and stepfather are usually drunk, broke, or trying desperately to get the big break they refuse to admit isn’t coming. Iris’ best friend, Thurston, left home long ago, so no parents there. When her dad and his story turn out to be completely different from what she’s been told, it’s both confusing and amazing. But how much love can they manage in the time he has left? Valentine writes about family dysfunction, arson, and art with equal levels of beauty and lyricism, creating a vivid landscape of heartache and redemption. The plot dips forward and backward in time with clarity and precision, managing to avoid tripping even in narrative tight corners. A story about an ugly situation that explodes into beauty through cunning and resilience. (Fiction. 13-17)

About the Author

Jenny Valentine moved house every two years when she was growing up. She has just moved house again, probably not for the last time. She worked in a wholefood shop in Primrose Hill for fifteen years where she met many extraordinary people and sold more organic loaves than there are words in her first novel. She has also worked as a teaching assistant and a jewelry maker. She studied English Literature at Goldsmiths College, which almost put her off reading but not quite.

Jenny is married to a singer/songwriter and has two children.

Around the Web

Fire Color One on Amazon

Fire Color One on JLG

Fire Color One on Goodreads