Bettina Valentino and the Picasso Club

Overview

Fifth-grader Bettina Valentino couldn’t be a bigger fan of the funky new art teacher at Bayside Prep, who walks around barefoot to soak up the energy of the earth and is full of inspiring lessons about how art can be used to challenge, shock, and surprise. But when the teacher’s unconventional methods get him into trouble with some influential parents, it’s up to Bettina and some of her art-loving friends to nip the controversy in the bud and support freedom of artistic ...

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Overview

Fifth-grader Bettina Valentino couldn’t be a bigger fan of the funky new art teacher at Bayside Prep, who walks around barefoot to soak up the energy of the earth and is full of inspiring lessons about how art can be used to challenge, shock, and surprise. But when the teacher’s unconventional methods get him into trouble with some influential parents, it’s up to Bettina and some of her art-loving friends to nip the controversy in the bud and support freedom of artistic expression.

In his first chapter book, Niki Daly gives readers a quick-paced, profusely illustrated story about a boisterous heroine – as well as tidbits about famous artists such as Picasso, Klee, and Warhol.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“An art competition, a student club (organized by Bettina), a parental complaint and a highly satisfactory resolution round out this light-hearted introduction to eccentricity, activism and art appreciation.” —The Washington Post

“With tidbits about famous artists, this is a quick-paced, entertaining book about the power of art.” School Library Journal

“Delightful.” —STARRED, Booklist

“The acclaimed South African author / illustrator ventures into chapter-book territory with this humorous account of how a new art teacher shakes up fifth grader Bettina Valentino’s school and inspires the fledgling artist . . . . Profusely illustrated and told in first-person chronological episodes, this may have appeal for some reluctant readers as well.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Bettina Valentino and the Picasso Club is a novel so funny that readers will find themselves laughing out loud at some of the antics of the title character and her family and friends – but beneath that amusement are some very serious lessons about what art is, how it is made, and in what ways it appeals to (or fails to appeal to) different sorts of people.”Infodad.com

Kristi Jemtegaard
Niki Daly's first foray into the field of chapter books is filled with the same arch humor and offhand illustrations as his picture books…[a] light-hearted introduction to eccentricity, activism and art appreciation. Kids will even learn a smidgen about art history and perhaps be inspired to create something artistic of their own.
—The Washington Post
School Library Journal

Gr 4-6

Bettina Valentino is in love with "Mr. Popart," the eccentric new teacher at Bayside Prep who instills a love of art in Bettina and her fifth-grade classmates. He shows how art can be used to challenge, shock, and surprise by discussing graffiti, Dadaism, Cubism, and Pop Art. He encourages them to see everyday life in new and different ways. Bettina and her friends start a Picasso Club, and they meet to work on their entries for a competition. Mr. Popart hosts an informal Dada exhibition for parents, leading to some humorous moments. One boy's doggie-doo creation becomes attached to Maxine's mom's shoe, and she also drinks from another artist's display featuring genuine spit. When Mr. Popart shows a book of Matisse nudes to Maxine and she makes a fuss, her influential parents cause trouble for him with the school. It is up to Bettina and her friends to figure out how to turn this mess into a masterpiece. Whimsical black-and-white spot art graces most of the pages. With tidbits about famous artists, this is a quick-paced, entertaining book about the power of art.-Sarah Polace, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Parma, OH

Kirkus Reviews
The acclaimed South African author/illustrator ventures into chapter-book territory with this humorous account of how a new art teacher shakes up fifth grader Bettina Valentino's school and inspires the fledgling artist. Quirky Bettina is an original, from her tufted hair to her active imagination. Whatever she does consumes her, whether it's painting or mourning the possible loss of the controversial teacher who wears no shoes (getting energy from the earth), allows students to paint on hallway walls and has pictures of naked women in his art books. Mr. Popart introduces artists and movements from Paul Klee to Damien Hirst and from Dada to Cubism; Daly's gray-scale line drawings reflect the variety of artistic styles. Secondary characters are sketchily developed, but readers will recognize the buttoned-up girl and "Ditto," her inseparable companion, Mason, the boy who farts, and Bettina's food-loving best friend and life-chronicler, Carmen-Daisy. This is an intriguing group readers will hope to meet again. Profusely illustrated and told in first-person chronological episodes, this may have appeal for some reluctant readers as well. (Fiction. 8-11)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374307530
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 4/27/2009
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 112
  • Age range: 7 - 10 Years
  • Lexile: 710L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

NIKI DALY, a Hans Christian Andersen Award nominee, has written and illustrated many acclaimed picture books, among them Happy Birthday, Jamela!, which The Miami Herald praised as “absolutely pitch-perfect.” He lives in Cape Town, South Africa.

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