Let’s mix things up this week by creating a list of five reasons you should check out this special children’s book. After all, A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin by Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet is a picture book biography that is showing up on a lot of “Best of 2013” lists.
1. The story of Horace Pippin’s life is an important piece of history.
Horace Pippin’s grandmother had been a slave. He was a soldier in World War I. His paintings recorded many scenes unique to his times.
You will definitely want to pull this one out for Black History Month.
2. Award-winning illustrator Melissa Sweet’s insightful illustrations.
Melissa Sweet’s real strength is that she becomes one with the text and subject. For this book she and the author Jen Bryant researched Horace Pippin together and even went on a road trip. Talk about method acting, Sweet went as far as to re-create materials that Pippin would have used. No wonder she won the Caldecott for A River of Words.
3. The story is inspirational.
Horace Pippin loved to draw and paint and even won a contest as a child. During the war, however, his right arm was so severely damaged he could not lift it. Many people would have given up art, but Horace Pippin figured out a way to lift his right arm with his left and he managed to start creating again. Amazing!
4. Jen Bryant’s text
Jen Bryant is an experienced author and it shows. She knows how to capture the full essence of a person’s life and present it in a way that captures a child’s attention. For some figures, covering a portion of their life would be sufficient. For Horace Pippin, his whole life is the story and Jen Bryant recognized that fact and embraced it.
5. Let’s not forget Horace Pippin’s fabulous art, some which is shown in the end papers of the book.
See some examples in the video above, or this gallery of some of his art.
Conclusion: The numbers for A Splash of Red add up to a book that definitely deserves a second look.
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Nonfiction Monday is a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. Join us at the new Nonfiction Monday blog.