Tag Archives: art

Kid Artists: True Tales of Childhood from Creative Legends (David Stabler)

12 Oct

I love, love, love the Kid Legends series, and this latest addition is no exception.

 

Kid ArtistsSquinklethoughts

1.  Kid Artists is the third installment, preceded by Kid Presidents and Kid Athletes, which are also terrific.  I love finding series that are so great that they become auto-buys.  I have no doubt I’ll be reading (and buying for our library) the next title in this collection, whatever it might be about.

2.  You’ll enjoy finding out what the childhoods of some very famous people were like.  Well-known names like Andy Warhol (who loved Campbell’s tomato soup as a child) and Dr. Seuss (rhymes with “choice”, ya know) are just some of the people you’ll read about.

3.  Sometimes, illustrious people have privileged beginnings, but many more times, they endure hardship and unsupportive friends and family in their younger years that you have to wonder how they ever produced their art.  This book gives you the good stuff and the bad stuff that made these artists not just unique, but also remarkable.

4.  I have a soft spot for Vincent van Gogh.  (One of my favourite Doctor Who episodes is Vincent and the Doctor … bawled my eyes out at (spoiler alert) the end.  Soooo great.)  Be sure to read about his beginnings.  We might never fully understand people, but we can try to appreciate what might have led them to turning points in their lives.

5.  I hadn’t heard of some of the people covered in Kid Artists, so I’m glad to have this book accessible.  There are so many cool people and events in history that we should all read about.

6. I love Doogie Horner’s people drawings.  They’re wonderful!

7.  Check out the Kid Legends website!

* Teachers/parents, if you’d like a copy of the chapter-by-chapter questions that I give to my students, please feel free to email me!

 

4.5 Squinkles

 

David Stabler’s Online Corners
Website | Twitter | Chapters

 

Thank you, Quirk Books, for sending me a copy of Kid Artists
in exchange for an honest review.

All Squinklethoughts herein are entirely my own.

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The Paris Winter (Imogen Robertson)

18 Aug

What little creativity I had when I was in elementary school led to my determination to somehow improve this sad shortcoming.  However, while I have good penmanship and can plan events pretty well, I still have not developed any measurable drawing or painting talent.  Your fellow Squinks throughout the years have gotten bellyaches from all the laughter induced by my drawing attempts on the whiteboard.  Why do I tell you this?  It’s just a roundabout way of explaining to you why I admire artists, especially portraitists, so much.

 

Paris Winter 

Imogen Robertson’s protagonist, Maude, is a struggling artist voluntarily “lost” in the City of Lights.  She’s left the small-town charms and constraints of her little English village to study at the Académie, one of the few places where women could study alone and without condescension during the time period known as la Belle Époque.  I really empathized with Maude throughout much of the story on two accounts: First, I love studying, so I know what courage it takes for her to give up a relatively comfortable life back home to chase her art-related dreams across the Channel.  The trouble is … she is skint and desperately dreading the imminent cold Paris winter.  This is the second reason that made me feel for Maude.  Not many people have all the money they could ever need, but to not even know where your next meal is coming from must be a truly frightening and helpless experience.

I love historical fiction, and, in general, history.  The beginning of this novel was a little slowly paced for me, but once Maude finds employment with the Morels, I found myself drawn into Robertson’s world of rich characters, and I couldn’t read fast enough.  The women in the Paris Winter, in particular, I found very appealing as a reader – though I don’t think I’d be quite as nice to Sylvie as Maude is.  Regardless of their moral behaviour or social appearance, I found great pleasure in seeing the story lines of each woman unfold.  It’s not surprising that I was rooting for Maude.  She is, after all, the protagonist.  But she is hardly without fault.  I found her seeming lack of gumption galling at times, and on some pages, I really wanted to scream, “Stop being so gullible!”  But she is kind and honourable, and I admired her for that.  Yvette was a blast to walk through the novel with.  She is fiery and fabulously French, typifying the je ne sais quoi expression.  I ached for and with Tanya, whose life only seems remarkable to one not living it.  But she is decent and loyal, and I cannot find fault with that.

I didn’t fall in love with this book as much as I thought I would, but there is so much strength in Robertson’s writing that I cannot NOT recommend it all the same.  Fans of historical fiction and strong female characters will particularly enjoy it, and I’m sure anyone who’s as in love with Paris as I am will find much of the narrative a delight for the senses.  Robertson’s writing is eloquent and enchanting – a piece of art in itself.  She writes as Maude would draw a portrait: a sketch here, an outline there, and before you know it, a vibrant burst of colours sits before you.  I look forward to exploring what other stories Robertson has to offer.

Did you read the Paris Winter?  What did you think?

 

4 Squinkles 

Imogen Robertson’s Online Corners
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Chapters

 

Thank you, St. Martin’s Press, for sending me a copy of the Paris Winter in exchange for an honest review.
All opinions and suggestions expressed herein are entirely my own.

A to Z: E is for Echo

5 Apr

E is for Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan.  It’s a recent read, and one I really enjoyed.  Three (and a half) equally engaging stories are woven together to follow the journey of one life-changing harmonica as it touches the lives of three children.  Review to come very soon.  In the meanwhile, happy reading!  And isn’t this cover just gorgeous?

 

E - Echo

 

Have you read Echo yet?  What do you think of my choice of ami thé for it?

Vanessa and Her Sister (Priya Parmar)

23 Feb

Vanessa and Her Sister

 

17 Bookworm Lane
Chapterville

 

23 February 2015

My dearest Squinks,

And so, the cold weather lingers on. I do hope that it has yet overstayed its welcome where you are. Winters do seem dreadfully long if they are especially cold, n’est-ce pas? When the temperature dips below 20° C, I sometimes recall those moments of my childhood during which we trudged 20 miles to school … walking barefoot … in the snow … with nary un chapeau to keep our têtes protected from the wind.

Et alors, I write to you today to tell you about the most delightful novel I have just finished. It is written by one Priya Parmar, a very talented author who hails from Mother England. Vanessa and Her Sister is a unique and lovely literary tableau of the heydays of the Bloomsbury Group, told through the wise eyes of Vanessa Bell (née Stephen). Wonderful things about this novel abound; I hope one of the copies in our library will someday find its way into your hands.

Are you wondering if this story really is worth your time? Maybe you’re not particularly keen on immersing yourself in the lives of these Bloomsbury authors, artists, and critics, whom some have undoubtedly labelled as equally the epitome of intelligence and the pinnacle of pretentiousness? Peut-être reading Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse has given you a perpetual, irrevocable, indomitable refusal to ever read anything related to her ever again? If so, dearest Squinks, I beg you to let me plead my case.

Read this novel for Parmar’s writing. Read it for the pure joy of hearing her witty words spoken aloud because saying them in your head once is simply not enough. It is facile enough to read the curricula vitæ of these beaux amis, but Parmar’s writing brings them, especially the Stephen sisters, to life. Told from Vanessa’s perspective, with the occasional welcome interruptions from friends, Vanessa and Her Sister affords its readers an extended glimpse into the lives of this coterie from the rare point of view of someone living within it. Parmar’s Vanessa is an intelligent and perceptive heroine, keenly aware of her place as a woman, wife, and artist in the England of the early 1900s. I think many of you will truly appreciate recognizing that she was both a product of and participant in her time, and that she handled herself with aplomb even in the most trying of circumstances. Some would undoubtedly admonish her for her seeming passive-aggressiveness, but dear Squinks, as you read this novel, I hope you, too, come to comprehend and applaud the quiet but steady trail that Vanessa blazed. And what of Virginia Woolf? I’ve never loathed her nor understood her as much as I do now that I’ve seen her through the eyes of her sister. Vanessa’s forbearance of Virginia haunts me in the same way that Virginia’s beauty haunted her.

If, by the time you reach her journal entry dated 20 November 1906, you still have not found the lure that draws you into the turbulent English Channel that was the Stephens, I encourage you, then, to simply admire Parmar’s talent with me. Her words are eloquent, and her turns of phrases capture the voices of this time period. Rather than seeming tentative or contrived, Vanessa’s wit and humour flow freely across the page as a testimony to the author’s deft. Parmar makes me want to write and paint and read to feel the same passion that permeated throughout the Bloomsbury Group.

Please, my dear Squinks, please put me out of my misery. Venez me voir dans la bibliothèque et demandez-moi ce nouveau roman incroyable.

Amicalement,
Ta professeure

PS: My favourite line of the entire novel is the last line.  Let me know when you get there!

 

5 Squinkles 

Priya Parmar’s Online Corners
Website | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads | Chapters

 

Thank you, Random House and Ballantine Books, for sending me a copy of Vanessa and Her Sister.  All opinions and suggestions expressed herein are entirely my own; I received no compensation for them.

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