nonfiction nuggets…about the world’s greatest artists

Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists,  is a series, written and illustrated by Mike Venezia. 

 Beginning when my children were very, very young – just 2 and 3 years old – we looked at these brilliant books together.   We learned a little bit about the lives of folks like Vincent Van Gogh, Mary Cassatt, and Michelangelo; we poured over Degas’ ballerinas and Rembrandt’s incredible painting of The Feast of Belshazzar; and we definitely looked at every one of the cartoons and read every silly line of conversation in them – every time we read the book!  Without any great attempts on my part at being educational, my kids learned to appreciate these artists and their work, to recognize differences in style, to wonder over certain pieces, and to express what they did or didn’t like.  Later, as we took in museums in various cities, I was surprised at how they would exclaim over a painting they knew from those books, as though they were meeting an old friend.

 There are 48 artists to choose from in this series, ranging from Titian to Andy Warhol.  Each one is a nice, small, picture book size.  The type is large and friendly.  The books briefly tell each artist’s life story and explain a bit about the distinctives of his or her art.  There are quite a number of beautiful full-color reproductions of the artist’s works throughout the text, as well as several bright, silly, child-engaging cartoons by Mike Venezia, showing the artist growing up or at work, complete with ridiculous dialogue.  To conclude the book, there are summary statements highlighting the unique contributions made by this artist and a list of the museums where you can see the pieces from the book.  Even if you don’t know a thing about art, you can enjoy these books with your child and learn along with them.  Highly recommended!