Boy Who Loved to Draw: Benjamin West [NOOK Book]

Overview


When Benjamin was seven years old, the only thing in the world he wanted to do was draw pictures. Sometimes it got him into trouble—when he “borrowed” Papa’s best quill pen, when he drew the cows instead of milking them for Mama, when he used the cat’s fur for brushes—but it also led him to some surprising adventures.
Here, in lively words and vivid pictures, is the engaging true story of Benjamin West, the farm boy from colonial Pennsylvania ...
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Boy Who Loved to Draw: Benjamin West

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Overview


When Benjamin was seven years old, the only thing in the world he wanted to do was draw pictures. Sometimes it got him into trouble—when he “borrowed” Papa’s best quill pen, when he drew the cows instead of milking them for Mama, when he used the cat’s fur for brushes—but it also led him to some surprising adventures.
Here, in lively words and vivid pictures, is the engaging true story of Benjamin West, the farm boy from colonial Pennsylvania who grew up to become the first world-famous American artist.

Recounts the life story of the Pennsylvania artist who began drawing as a boy and eventually became well known on both sides of the Atlantic.

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Editorial Reviews

Horn Book
(Primary)
This brief picture-book biography of Benjamin West, "the father of American art," has an informing theme that unifies text and illustration into a seamless whole. That theme is set in the brief prologue, which introduces the large West family and notes that when Benjamin was born in 1738, the last of ten children, the preacher prophesied that "this boy will do great things someday." From that day forward, Brenner tells us, "everyone kept...waiting for the first signs of greatness." They did not have long to wait, for at age seven Benjamin, with no formal lessons, made an accomplished drawing of his sister's baby. Subsequently, he learned to make paint from a member of the friendly Lenape tribe and a paintbrush from a traveler staying at the inn. With admirable ingenuity, he fashioned the latter from the fur of his cat Grimalkin, who was not too enthused about his role as artist's assistant. Eventually, the cat's mangy appearance led to discovery-and to his parents' decision to send him to a "real live artist" for an assessment of his work. That decision changed his life. In the succeeding chapter, "And Then What Happened," the author neatly summarizes West's subsequent career, his education, his success as a portrait painter, his friendship with Benjamin Franklin, and his life as an expatriate in England, where, despite his friendship with George III, he remained loyal to the American cause during the Revolution. The choice of subject, the emphasis on West's early years, and the careful selection of childlike incidents such as the cat's unwilling involvement all make this biography appropriate as a picture-book treatment and appealing for the intended audience. The result is a handsome interpretation, faithful to its subject, lively to read, distinctively colonial in pictorial content, and cast in a well-designed format with simple two-line black borders framing an appropriate typeface and flattened, angular illustrations. m.m.b.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This innovative picture book/chapter book hybrid vividly brings to life the childhood of noted American painter Benjamin West (1738-1820). The youngest of 10 children in a Quaker family, Benjamin becomes inspired at the age of seven and draws pictures every chance he gets. When quill and paper aren't enough, a Native American friend shows young Benjamin how to mix clay and bear grease into paint colors, and Benjamin learns-by trial and error, using hair from his pet cat-how to make simple paintbrushes. Brenner (If You Were There in 1776) distills West's formative years into a lively narrative. She makes Benjamin easy to like, giving equal emphasis to his singular passion for art and to the qualities he has in common with readers (e.g., a knack for getting into trouble, then fearing the consequences). Dunrea's (The Painter Who Loved Chickens) gouache compositions capture the sparse simplicity of colonial-era Pennsylvania. Pared-down, favoring the grays and muted colors associated with traditional Quaker furnishings, these pictures pay their respects to the art of the period but retain warmth and a childlike puckishness; the horizontal format, approximately 10" x 7", accentuates Dunrea's painterly style. An author's note chronicling West's career and featuring reproductions of several works is included. Ages 5-8. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly
In a starred review, PW called this an "innovative picture/chapter book hybrid that vividly brings to life the childhood of the noted American painter. The author makes West easy to like, giving equal emphasis to his singular passion for art and to the qualities he has in common with readers." Ages 5-8. (June) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
The youngest of ten children, Benjamin West was destined to be great according to the local preacher. His family was always on the lookout for signs of his greatness, but it wasn't until Benjamin was seven that his talent and obsession for art was revealed. The story takes Benjamin from his early days in a Quaker family, his self-taught artistic skills, eventual training in Philadelphia and to Europe where he studied and lived the rest of his life. By the age of thirty, Benjamin was famous in North America and Europe. His works were owned by George and Martha Washington and King George III. However, Benjamin West never forgot his American roots and he was a supporter of young artists, especially those from America. A few of his paintings are reproduced and a list of additional resources conclude the book. Dunrea has created pictures that look like they were painted in the eighteenth century, they provide wonderful visual interpretation of life during the period and add a bit of humor to the account.
Kirkus Reviews
A folk-art quality infuses Dunrea's clean-lined and pleasing gouache illustrations for this highly appealing biography from Brenner (The Earth is Painted Green, 1994, etc.) on the childhood of America's first world-famous artist, Benjamin West. Later in life, West would enjoy the patronage of King George III and friendships with men such as Benjamin Franklin, but the boy growing up on a Pennsylvania farm in the tag end of a family of ten showed few signs of what he would become. Three chapters relate pivotal moments in West's boyhood; in the first, Benjamin is given the duty of rocking the cradle and flapping the flies away from a baby, but is seized by an intense desire to draw the child instead, resulting in an astonishingly recognizable drawing. A nicely executed section, "And Then What Happened?" collapses the rest of an illustrious career into two spreads, one of which provides some of the artist's paintings, including his first, Landscape with Cow. A concluding spread simply and briefly provides bibliographic data. The glimpses of the artist's development in this handsome book provides may be apocryphal autobiography from West himself (Brenner bases her incidents on his account of his childhood), but the charm and innocence of his delinquencies will attract readers. (Picture book/biography. 5-8)
From the Publisher
“Vividly brings to life the childhood of noted American painter Benjamin West (1738–1820) . . . giving equal emphasis to his singular passion for art and to the qualities he has in common with readers.” Publishers Weekly, Starred

Based on the autobiographical writings of colonial artist Benjamin West, this story introduces young Benjamin, who began drawing at the age of seven, using a forbidden tool: his papa's goose quill pen. Scolded for that offense, but praised for the excellent likeness of his baby niece, Benjamin continues to make pictures. Friendly Indians show him how to make paint, his cat unwillingly contributes fur for brushes, and his parents send him, at the age of nine, to learn from an artist in Philadelphia. Each page of West's story faces a painting with simplified forms, subdued colors, and pleasing composition. Naive in style and reminiscent of some colonial art, the illustrations present clear visual expressions of the activities and emotions related in the story. The last pages include a summary of West's adult life, small reproductions of three of his paintings, suggestions for where to see his work, and brief source notes for this book. A fascinating look at art in colonial times, and a likable portrait of the artist as a young boy.

Sept. 15, 1999 Booklist, ALA

This brief picture-book biography of Benjamin West, "the father of American art," has an informing theme that unifies text and illustration into a seamless whole. That theme is set in the brief prologue, which introduces the large West family and notes that when Benjamin was born in 1738, ten children, the preacher prophesied that "this boy will do great things someday." From that day forward, Brenner tells us, "everyone kept...waiting for the first signs of greatness." They did not have long to wait, for at age seven Benjamin, with no formal lessons, made an accomplished drawing of his sister's baby. Subsequently, he learned to make paint from a member of the friendly Lenape tribe and a paintbrush from a traveler staying at the inn. With admirable ingenuity, he fashioned the latter from the fur of his cat Grimalkin, who was not too enthused about his role as artist's assistant. Eventually, the cat's mangy appearance led to discovery-and to his parents' decision to send him to a "real live artist" for an assessment of his work. That decision changed his life. In the succeeding chapter, "And Then What Happened," the author neatly summarizes West's subsequent career, his education, his success as a portrait painter, his friendship with Benjamin Franklin, and his life as an expatriate in England, where, despite his friendship with George III, he remained loyal to the American cause during the Revolution. The choice of subject, the emphasis on West's early years, and the careful selection of childlike incidents such as the cat's unwilling involvement all make this biography appropriate as a picture-book treatment and appealing for the intended audience. The result is a handsome interpretation, faithful to its subject, lively to read, distinctively colonial in pictorial content, and cast in a well-designed format with simple two-line black borders framing an appropriate typeface and flattened, angular illustrations.
Horn Book

A folk-art quality infuses Dunrea's clean-lined and pleasing gouache illustrations for this highly appealing biography from Brenner (The Earth is Painted Green, 1994, etc.) on the childhood of America's first world-famous artist, Benjamin West. Later in life, West would enjoy the patronage of King George III and friendships with men such as Benjamin Franklin, but the boy growing up on a Pennsylvania farm in the tag end of a family of ten showed few signs of what he would become. Three chapters relate pivotal moments in West's boyhood; in the first, Benjamin is given the duty of rocking the cradle and flapping the flies away from a baby, but is seized by an intense desire to draw the child instead, resulting in an astonishingly recognizable drawing. A nicely executed section, And Then What Happened?' collapses the rest of an illustrious career into two spreads, one of which provides some of the artist's paintings, including his first, Landscape with Cow. A concluding spread simply and briefly provides bibliographic data. The glimpses of the artist's development in this handsome book provides may be apocryphal autobiography from West himself (Brenner bases her incidents on his account of his childhood), but the charm and innocence of his delinquencies will attract readers. Kirkus Reviews

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780547562247
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 6/23/2003
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 48
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • File size: 6 MB

Meet the Author



Olivier Dunrea is the creator of beautiful and well-loved children�s books. A painter and a sculptor, his work centers around farms, animals, architecture, and folklore. He lives in the tiny village of Narrowsburg, New York, in the Catskill Mountains.
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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2013

    Poop

    This stunk!! DO NOT get.

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