Emily's Art

( 1 )

Overview

"What a gorgeous painting," exclaimed the judge of Ms. Fair's first-grade art contest. "What a beautiful rabbit!"

For Emily, the words are a shock.

Her painting is of her dog, Thor. Not a rabbit.

But instead of thinking: What's wrong with this judge? Emily takes the words, and the judgment, to heart.

Just ...

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Overview

"What a gorgeous painting," exclaimed the judge of Ms. Fair's first-grade art contest. "What a beautiful rabbit!"

For Emily, the words are a shock.

Her painting is of her dog, Thor. Not a rabbit.

But instead of thinking: What's wrong with this judge? Emily takes the words, and the judgment, to heart.

Just as she takes her art.

Not everyone, not Ms. Fair, or even Emily's best friend, Kelly, can see that.

At first.

Emily paints four pictures and enters one in the first-grade art contest, but the judge interprets Emily's entry as a rabbit instead of a dog.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
"Catalanotto subtly conveys the value of creating art for art's sake in this tender picture book about a first grade art contest," PW said. "Aspiring Picassos everywhere will find much to contemplate and cheer about here." Ages 5-8. (Dec.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
First-grader Emily lives to draw. When Ms. Fair announces that the school is having an art contest, Emily submits a picture of her dog, Thor, whom she has depicted with very large ears "Because Thor hears everything." The judge, whose sole qualifications are that she is the principal's mother and her cousin is married to an artist, inspects the paintings, and declares Emily's "rabbit" to be "exquisite." When she learns it is a dog, however, she declares that she hates dogs and pins the blue ribbon on Kelly's butterfly. Emily, devastated, determines she'll never paint again, and ends up in the nurse's office with a heart that hurts. But Kelly, in the nurse's office with Emily because she is dizzy, asks Emily to show her how to draw a dinosaur, and the two friends find their equilibrium once more as Emily begins to draw. Catalanotto's oversize watercolors capture the joy of a first-grader's art, the fussiness of the judge and the way that Emily wants to disappear (by making her figure transparent) when her work is rejected. Dedicated to "all the children who paint with their hearts," this is an excellent choice for those discussing the concepts of fairness, judging and being judged. 2001, Atheneum/Simon & Schuster, $16.00. Ages 5 to 8. Reviewer: Cherri Jones
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-As with all inspired artists, Emily's paintings reflect her unique perceptions. The child paints her beloved teacher with golden wings and her dog with exceptionally large ears, "Because Thor hears everything." The story, however, really begins before the title page with a provocative classroom discussion of the upcoming art contest-and the process of singling out an entry as the best. When the judge dismisses Emily's picture of Thor (because she was once bitten by a dog) in favor of a butterfly painted by Emily's best friend (under her tutelage), the child's pain is palpable. Throughout the book, Catalanotto voices the concerns and reactions of children quite convincingly. Like his protagonist, he conveys a heightened reality in his watercolor, gouache, and acrylic spreads. His backgrounds resemble the richness of Rothko canvases (albeit with more light); this choice simultaneously focuses more attention on the children in the foreground and subtly supports the central theme regarding the qualities of "fine" art. Insets allow for sequential messages and multiple perspectives. Many of the illustrations superimpose images on silhouettes or transparent figures on visible backgrounds, pulling readers into the character's interior world. Whether viewed from afar or up close, this creative and heartfelt book is a masterpiece.-Wendy Lukehart, Harrisburg School District, PA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Catalanotto (Dad and Me, 1999, etc.) sets his stage almost like a little movie: there's a prologue, a progression, a denouement, and a coda, all in the standard picture book's 32 pages. The watercolor, gouache, and acrylic paintings shimmer in bold colors and strong shapes, echoing the text themes. It's a heavily didactic story with a straw villain, but it gets at an honest truth. Ms. Fair asks her class if they know what a contest is and what a judge is. The class bickers over what judges do ("puts bad people in jail," says one), and Ms. Fair explains that in the art contest, the judge will decide who the winner is. Emily loves to paint, and she does so inventively: she paints four mommies in her breakfast scene, because her mom is "very busy in the morning" and angel wings on her picture of Ms. Fair "because she's so nice." She enters her painting of her dog Thor in the contest, painted with big ears because "Thor hears everything" and helps her best friend Kelly with the colors on her butterfly. When the judge arrives, she mistakes Thor for a rabbit; when told it's a dog, she chooses Kelly's butterfly instead because she hates dogs. Emily vows never to paint again, and her misery-filled, random thoughts will resonate with any child whose work has been misunderstood. While the text is heavy-handed, Catalanotto's art brilliantly portrays not only the lively classroom, but also Emily's own art and the art of her classmates, what she's thinking, and how she resolves the situation for herself. (Picture book. 5-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416926887
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 12/26/2006
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 319,563
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 0.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter Catalanotto has written fifteen books for children, including Monkey & Robot, Question Boy Meets Little Miss Know-It-All, Ivan the Terrier, Matthew A.B.C., and Emily’s Art, of which School Library Journal said in a starred review, “Whether viewed from afar or up close, this creative and heartfelt book is a masterpiece.” Peter has illustrated more than forty books, among them several collaborations with George Ella Lyon. Their Mother to Tigers received a starred review in School Library Journal and was one of the New York Public Library’s 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing in 2003. He lives in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

Peter Catalanotto has written fifteen books for children, including Monkey & Robot, Question Boy Meets Little Miss Know-It-All, Ivan the Terrier, Matthew A.B.C., and Emily’s Art, of which School Library Journal said in a starred review, “Whether viewed from afar or up close, this creative and heartfelt book is a masterpiece.” Peter has illustrated more than forty books, among them several collaborations with George Ella Lyon. Their Mother to Tigers received a starred review in School Library Journal and was one of the New York Public Library’s 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing in 2003. He lives in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Gorgeous Watercolor Picturebook about Feelings

    EMILY'S ART is the story about Emily, a first-grade girl who loves to paint. There is a colorful aura of joy around Emily as she paints with her heart, and she radiates a soft, pink glow when she paints a watercolor picture of her friend, Kelly. When Emily's class participates in a school-wide art contest, Emily chooses to enter a picture of her dog, Thor, with great big ears, "Because Thor hears everything." When all the first-grade pictures are judged in the art contest, Emily is heart-broken to see her beloved picture of Thor passed over because the judge hates dogs. Fortunately, Emily's friend, Kelly, and her teacher, Ms. Fair, show Emily how much they care about her, and the story ends with a class party to celebrate all the beautiful pictures the children made. What makes this picture book so very special is the way that every illustration of Emily shows how she feels in body posture, facial expression, and her human energy field. When Emily is happy, soft colors of light shine around her head and shoulders. When Emily is sad, her head droops forward and she becomes transparent as her aura disappears. Every picture of her aura is delightfully different -- my favorite is the one where she is showing her friend, Kelly, how to draw a dinosaur and lots of bright colors surround her head, back, and arm! This is a gorgeous watercolor picture book that shows how feelings look in the human energy field. I give it my highest recommendation!

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