Three extraordinary Russian artists today –a composer, a dancer, a painter — in two marvelous books.
When Stravinsky Met Nijinsky: Two Artists, Their Ballet, and One Extraordinary Riot, written and illustrated by Lauren Stringer published in 2013 by Harcourt Children’s Books
Igor Stravinsky is our composer — a guy who revolutionized music. He took familiar old Russian melodies and “squared them and flattened them, twisted and cubed them” to come up with some loud and previously-unheard-of sounds!
Vaslav Nijinsky is our dancer — a guy who was leaping to fame across the stages of Russia and Europe before he met up with Stravinsky; who choreographed such novel movements, he was accused of “crimes against beauty and grace.”
When these two explosively talented artists put their heads together, the result was a Parisian riot!
Lauren Stringer’s dynamic story reads like a pas de deux as she gracefully introduces these two individuals, then whirls them together for their famous collaboration, The Rite of Spring.
Her glowing illustrations dance as well. So much movement! I love how the abundant white space on the early pages gives way to dramatic color and jam-packed compositions as this potent piece of art emerges.
Extensive Author’s Notes tell more about each of the artists, The Rite of Spring, and some fascinating bits of art history which Stringer has tucked into her paintings. I love her work, and I love that she’s from my home, Minneapolis! Early elementary and up.
The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art, by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by Mary Grandpré published in 2014 by Alfred A. Knopf
And here is our painter, Vasily Kandinsky.
A guy who heard colors.
Who saw musical sounds.
And who yearned to paint in such a way as to capture passions and emotions in his art, the same way music could. The explosions of color on his canvases were like nothing anyone had ever seen before.
Barb Rosenstock’s text is a fantastic contrast between the stifled moments of Kandinsky’s life — doomed to paint flowers and houses like every other Joe Schmo –and his wildly exuberant expressions when he painted his own way. She captures beautifully the unique way he experienced color and sound.
Mary Grandpré’s art – ahhhhh! — so masterfully evokes the outer and inner worlds of Kandinsky. Just brilliant.
It’s a book that soars, and it will grab the attention of kids ages 5 and up. An Author’s Note includes information about synesthesia, a sensory condition it is supposed Kandinsky had.