A Caldecott Honor Book
Vasya Kandinsky was a proper little boy: he studied math and history, he practiced the piano, he sat up straight and was perfectly polite. And when his family sent him to art classes, they expected him to paint pretty houses and flowers--like a proper artist. But as Vasya opened his paint box and began mixing the reds, the yellows, the blues, he heard a strange sound--the swirling colors trilled like an orchestra tuning up for a symphony! And as he grew older, he continued to hear brilliant colors singing and see vibrant sounds dancing. But was Vasya brave enough to put aside his proper still lifes and portraits and paint . . . music?
In this exuberant celebration of creativity, Barb Rosenstock and Mary GrandPré tell the fascinating story of Vasily Kandinsky, one of the very first painters of abstract art. Throughout his life, Kandinsky experienced colors as sounds, and sounds as colors--and bold, groundbreaking works burst forth from his noisy paint box. Backmatter includes four paintings by Kandinsky, an author's note, sources, links to websites on synesthesia and abstract art.
"Is it a house?" "Is it a flower?" "What's it supposed to be?" When an aunt gives Moscow schoolboy Vasily Kandinsky a paint box, no one knows what to make of the wild shapes he creates. He doesn't just see the colors. He hears them: "blaring crimson... burbling green, clanging orange, and tinkling violet." Even after he gives up his career teaching law years later and decides to study art, his teachers steer him toward traditional subjects. He resists, and his works become the art world's first abstract paintings. Rosenstock (Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library) focuses on passages of Kandinsky's writing that seem to indicate he experienced synesthesia, the neurological phenomenon that blurs the boundaries between the senses, and her prose strikes a balance between lightheartedness and lyricism. GrandPre's (The Wee Hours) paintings, meanwhile, conjure up an entire epoch, lingering over the candelabras and tasseled drapes of the Kandinskys' apartment, breathing life into all the characters, and conveying the energy and vitality of the colors Kandinsky hears. Contains an afterword and reproductions of some of Kandinsky's works. Ages 4-8. Author's agent: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio. (Feb.)Copyright 2013 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.
Gr 1-4—A stirring tribute to a prominent pioneer of abstract art, Paintbox follows the life of Russian-born artist Vasya Kandinsky from his childhood to adulthood, conveying the astounding imagery conjured in the painter's (probably genetic) condition, synesthesia, which caused sensory fields to collide in explosions that enabled him, for example, to hear colors. In this delightful homage, Rosenstock's crisp visual language unites with GrandPre's deeply expressive and whimsical paintings to re-create the intriguing world of art as seen through Kandinsky's distinct lens. The book offers diverse potential for different types of study, whether one is reading for information or for pleasure. Outstanding.—Kathryn Diman, Bass Harbor Memorial Library, Bernard, MECopyright 2014 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.
"GrandPré employs muted purples and blues to depict Vasya's dull childhood world. Once he starts painting, the pages come alive with bright swirls of color that fly around his head like strands of melody...Even those who aren't inspired to visit a museum will take away the lesson of Kandinsky's life: Listen to what excites you and follow its call."
-New York Times
"The fantastic illustrations in this book will speak to the creative child and the story of breaking free from convention and finding your own path will speak to the child who dreams of things not yet seen.
-The Huffington Post
-Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books