Just Being Dalí: The Story of Artist Salvador Dalí

by Amy Guglielmo (Author) Brett Helquist (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

This kid-friendly picture book biography celebrates the irrepressible individuality of Surrealist artist Salvador Dalí.

Salvador Dalí just couldn't help being himself. When he was little, he wasn't like the other children; he was a daydreamer who liked to play pretend. When he grew up, he became an artist, but he didn't want to make art that looked like everyone else's. He became the most famous painter of his time after he made a picture of melting clocks. He liked to do wild, attention-grabbing things: He drove a fancy car stuffed with 1,000 pounds of cauliflower. He gave a speech inside a deep-sea diving suit. And he took his pet ocelot Babou to lunch at snooty restaurants. He designed lollipop wrappers in exchange for free candy, a lobster phone that really worked, and a hat made out of a shoe! Here's the true story of the one and only Salvador Dalí, an artist who never stopped being himself.

School Library Journal

Gr 4-6--This literary nonfiction picture book spotlights the major events in Spanish surrealist artist Salvador Dalí's life, from his childhood to his eventual fame. The colorful illustrations are playful and detailed. In addition to the illustrations, another strength of the text is the reinforcement of the idea that it's okay to be different. The phrase Dalí was just "being himself" is repeated for effect. This title could be applied to lessons focusing on social emotional learning because of its positive messaging. It could also be used in art classes or ELA lessons focusing on the biography genre. A few key tenets of surrealism and representations of some of Dalí's most important paintings are included. Back matter provides a selected bibliography, an author's note, source notes, and details about the featured works of art. VERDICT Recommended as an engaging and imaginative addition to biography collections, and for lessons centering on social emotional learning.--Christina Salazar, Mesquite I.S.D., TX

Copyright 2021 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Praise for Just Being Dalí

This paean to the avant-garde will resonate with those who march to their own drumbeats. —Booklist

A buoyant, kid-friendly distillation of Salvador Dalí's life and art. —Kirkus Reviews

The irrepressible Dalí was as much a phenomenon as an artist, and this picture book biography wisely depicts him as both . . . Helquist's familiar style of measured exuberance suits its subject well . . . An artist who focused on garnering attention and exploring absurdity has innate kid appeal. —The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

[Helquist's] colorful illustrations are playful and detailed . . . Engaging and imaginative. —School Library Journal
Amy Guglielmo
Amy Guglielmo is a prolific children's author, artist, art educator, and art activist. She has written a number of books about art for children, including What the Artist Saw: Vincent Van Gogh (2021), published by DK.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Publication date
February 20, 2021

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