A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin

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Overview

A Robert F. Sibert Honor Book

Winner of the Schneider Family Book Award

An ALA-ALSC Notable Children's Book

Winner of the NCTE Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children

As a child in the late 1800s, Horace Pippin loved to draw: He loved the feel of the charcoal as it slid across the ...

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Overview

A Robert F. Sibert Honor Book

Winner of the Schneider Family Book Award

An ALA-ALSC Notable Children's Book

Winner of the NCTE Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children

As a child in the late 1800s, Horace Pippin loved to draw: He loved the feel of the charcoal as it slid across the floor. He loved looking at something in the room and making it come alive again in front of him. He drew pictures for his sisters, his classmates, his co-workers. Even during W.W.I, Horace filled his notebooks with drawings from the trenches . . . until he was shot. Upon his return home, Horace couldn't lift his right arm, and couldn't make any art. Slowly, with lots of practice, he regained use of his arm, until once again, he was able to paint—and paint, and paint! Soon, people—including the famous painter N. C. Wyeth—started noticing Horace's art, and before long, his paintings were displayed in galleries and museums across the country.

Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet team up once again to share this inspiring story of a self-taught painter from humble beginnings who despite many obstacles, was ultimately able to do what he loved, and be recognized for who he was: an artist.

Winner of the 2014 Schneider Family Book Award for Young Children
A 2014 Robert F. Sibert Honor Book
A 2013 Parents' Choice Award Winner for Nonfiction

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Pamela Paul
[Pippin's] is a can-do story about perseverance and the essential nature of artistic self-expression, and Bryant and Sweet affectionately and respectfully elucidate the life events that shaped the art.
Publishers Weekly
Starred Review.

The team behind the Caldecott Honor book A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams returns with a rewarding picture-book biography of self-taught African-American artist Horace Pippin. As a child, Pippin drew pictures at every opportunity, but his family's economic struggles eventually necessitated that he use his "big hands" in many other roles, including "stacking grain sacks at a feed store, shoveling coal at a rail yard," and later serving in WWI. Despite a war injury to his right arm, Pippin adapted in order to continue drawing and painting, eventually leading to recognition and fame in the art world. Sweet's naïf mixed-media collages blend thick, solid color blocks with motifs mined from Pippin's vibrant compositions, which range from war scenes to that of children at play. Quotations from Pippin about the psychological scars of war and his artistic process are hand-drawn into Sweet's images, underscoring how art was not only a joyful outlet for Pippin, but also a vital means of interpreting the world. Ages 5-8. Author's agent: Alyssa Eisner Henkin, Trident Media Group.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

From the Publisher
Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, February 18, 2013:
“Quotations from Pippin about the psychological scars of war and his artistic process are hand-drawn into Sweet's images, underscoring how art was not only a joyful outlet for Pippin, but also a vital means of interpreting the world.”

Starred Review, School Library Journal, January 1, 2013:
“Bryant’s meticulously researched, eloquent text makes this a winning read-aloud, while Sweet’s vibrant, folksy illustrations, rendered in watercolor, gouache, and mixed media, portray the joys and hardships of the man’s life, using his trademark palette…with just a splash of red.”

Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, December 1, 2012:
“This outstanding portrait of African-American artist Horace Pippin (1888-1946) allows Pippin’s work to shine—and his heart too.”

Starred Review, Booklist, November 1, 2012:
“…a well-structured narrative with recurring themes and a highly accessible style…outstanding.”

Kirkus Reviews
This outstanding portrait of African-American artist Horace Pippin (1888-1946) allows Pippin's work to shine--and his heart too. "The colors are simple, such as brown, amber, yellow, black, white and green," says pencil-lettered text on the front endpapers. These are Pippin's own humble words. His art and life aren't really simple at all, but here, they're eminently accessible. On that spread, brush and pencil lie on overlapping off-white papers--lined, gridded, plain--decorated in pencil hatchings and a painted progression of hues between each primary color and its complement. From Pippin's young childhood (working for pay to help his family; sketching with charcoal and paper scraps until he wins his first real art supplies in a contest), to his Army service in World War I, to the well-deserved fame that arrived only late in his life, he "couldn't stop drawing." When a military injury threatens Pippin's painting ability, he tries wood burning--"[u]sing his good arm to move the hurt one"--and works his way back to painting. Sweet's sophisticated mixed media (watercolor, gouache and collage), compositional framing, and both subdued and glowing colors pay homage to Pippin's artistic style and sometimes re-create his pieces. Bryant's text is understated, letting Pippin's frequent quotations glimmer along with the art. Backmatter provides exceptional resources, including artwork locations. A splash of vibrancy about a self-taught master. (historical note, author's note, illustrator's note, references) (Picture books/biography. 5-11)
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Although he is the grandson of a slave, Horace Pippin cannot stop drawing. When he wins paints in an art contest, he begins to paint; always, he adds a splash of red. Horace must quit school in the eighth grade and go to work in order to support his family. But he still loves to draw. He joins the army in World War I and continues to draw through the horrors. But when he is wounded in his right arm, he can draw no longer. Back home and married, Horace cannot find a regular job, so he does what he can. One day, he uses his left arm to guide his right to scorch lines in wood with a red-hot poker, drawing again. Gradually, he gains strength and begins to paint. When N.C. Wyeth sets up a show for Horace, he finally becomes famous. Using watercolors, gouache, and mixed media, Sweet creates solid portrayals of Pippin and the simplicity of his surroundings that parallel the informative text. The scattered representations of his art reveal the story of his artistic evolution. Many quotations are reproduced with handcrafted letters that appear to be carved from wood, adding significantly to the self-made style and strength of Pippin's paintings. Includes historic notes and notes by the author and illustrator, as well as additional resources. Do not miss the end papers. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 3–6—Born in 1888, grandson of a slave, Pippin loved to draw from an early age. He painted "…every day scenes in natural colors; then he added a splash of red." His classmates often begged, "Make a picture for us, Horace!" When he was in the eighth grade, he quit school and went to work. From rail yard to farm to hotel to factory, his workmates echoed the request, "Make a picture for us…." And when he enlisted in World War I, his fellow soldiers also entreated him to draw. "The war brought out all the art in me." But a bullet to the shoulder rendered his right arm useless and he was unable to find work due to his injury. Still, his drive to draw remained. One day, "using his good arm to move the hurt one, he scorched lines into the wood" to create a picture. With practice, his weak arm improved enough to allow him to paint, and paint he did. N.C. Wyeth recognized his talent and arranged for him to have a one-man exhibit. Today his work hangs in museums all over the country. Bryant's meticulously researched, eloquent text makes this a winning read-aloud, while Sweet's vibrant, folksy illustrations, rendered in watercolor, gouache, and mixed media, portray the joys and hardships of the man's life, using his trademark palette…with just a splash of red. Quotations from his notebooks, letters, and interviews are effectively woven into the pictures.—Barbara Auerbach, PS 217, Brooklyn, NY
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375867125
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 1/8/2013
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 68,535
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: 610L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.80 (w) x 11.20 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

JEN BRYANT has published poetry, biographies, picture books, and fiction for young readers. Her last picture-book biography collaboration with Melissa Sweet, A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams, was a Caldecott Honor Book. Jen lives with her family in southeastern Pennsylvania.

MELISSA SWEET is the Caldecott Honor artist of A River of Words by Jen Bryant, The Sleepy Little Alphabet by Judy Sierra, and Mrs. Harkness and the Panda by Alicia Potter, among others. She is also the author-illustrator of Balloons Over Broadway, which was awarded a Robert F. Sibert Medal.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 20, 2013

    Do you WANT to MEET Horace Pippin?

    This book was presented as a gift to an artist who teaches art and works as a full-time church worker. The recipient loves it. The book describes the life of Horace Pippin so his life experience AND his art can be understood. The publisher used good paper stock and the author and illustrator captured their subject. I'm glad I bought the hard cover edition. The quality of this publication over-tops most of what is 'out there'.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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