Grandma Moses

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Alexandra Wallner, the author and artist behind Betsy Ross and Abigail Adams, offers another illustrated biography of a celebrated American in Grandma Moses. The book follows Anna Mary Robertson through her childhood on a late 19th-century New York farm. Her early interest in painting necessarily remained secondary to her duties, until late in life. Wallner's simple folk-art-inspired illustrations seem ideally suited to the life and work of her subject. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
The long and very full life of Anna Mary Robertson, affectionately known as Grandma Moses is chronicled in this lively and simple narrative. The hard-working farm girl who had little time to indulge her creative talent savored the colors and textures of the changing rural landscapes and gave life to these memories in her highly praised art. From her own words readers learn of her joys in marrying a man she respected, her sorrow in laying to rest "five little babies," her disappointment when her first exhibit netted no sales, and her frugality when she admitted she often cut the Mason board to fit the frame because it is a "good idea to build the sty before getting the pig." The illustrations invoke the primitive style of Grandma Moses and are filled with all the details of a simpler life now long past. From her first large picture created on the fireboard at her home when she ran out of wallpaper to her modest paintings with their childlike innocence and wonder Grandma Moses is celebrated as a woman who believed "life is what we make of it." 2004, Holiday House, Ages 6 to 12.
—Beverley Fahey
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4-This inviting picture book covers the childhood, courtship, and mature years of Anna Mary Robertson, the self-taught artist whose cheerful, upstate-New York landscapes and scenes of family gatherings first garnered serious attention as she turned 80. Robertson's experience with and exposure to creative endeavors throughout the years are woven naturally into the narrative: she built "air-castles" (played make-believe), designed homemade paper dolls, watched her father paint "landscapes" on their living room walls, and, as an adult, painted an outdoor scene on her parlor wall. An author's note puts the artist's life in perspective, historically, and a bibliography highlights the source of the text's quotes. Wallner's folksy illustrations depicting both the chores and the glory of farm life serve her subject well. This work complements W. Nikola-Lisa's The Year with Grandma Moses (Holt, 2000), a title that presents Robertson through her own voice and art, but is more circumscribed in its coverage. Grandma Moses is sure to be appreciated during units focused on the accomplishments of women, artists, or octogenarians.-Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Veteran picture-book biographer Wallner has turned her hand to the life and work of the great 20th-century American Primitive painter Anna Mary Robertson, a.k.a. Grandma Moses. Employing homespun illustrations and straightforward, homey, narrative style, Wallner takes youngsters back to the artist's 19th-century New England roots. She limns the life spent on family farms and as a widow trying to make ends meet. Moses began embroidering "worsted pictures," preferring images and scenes from her childhood in New York and New England. When rheumatism pained, she turned to paints. The thrifty artist used whatever paints and supports on hand-including glitter in her snow scenes. Wallner recreated Moses's art here and appends one page of backmatter to round out the content. Youngsters who want to actually see Moses's own paintings will prefer W. Nikola-Lisa's The Year with Grandma Moses (2000). Nevertheless, young readers will find this a simple introduction to a genuine American character. A fresh-faced addition to young biography shelves and a sturdy choice for Women's History Month. (Picture book/biography. 4-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780823415380
  • Publisher: Holiday House, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/28/2004
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2004


    Filled with sprightly, colorful illustrations reminiscent of the work of the artist it celebrates 'Grandma Moses' is an ideal way to introduce youngsters to art. Each painting catches the eyes with its bold shades and scenes of earlier days, while the text traces the artist's inspiration and the development of her paintings. Born Anna Mary Robertson in 1860 the artist who would some day gain fame as Grandma Moses was raised on a farm in Washington County, New York. She was a happy child who enjoyed making believe, cutting out newspaper paper dolls and painting eyes on them with blue laundry rinse. Even as a young girl she liked to paint - scenes of the countryside. However, there was work to be done on the farm so she had little time to indulge her hobby. At the age of 12 she left home to work as a hired girl for a family. Later, as a young woman working for another family she met their hired man, Thomas Salomon Moses. She was to write of that meeting in later years: 'In those days we didn't look for a man with money, but for a good family, good reputation - many of the boys were chicken thieves.' The pair married and moved to Virginia's Shenandoah Valley. She would have loved to have painted that scene but she was kept busy churning milk into butter to pay for their cows. After their children were born the family moved back to New York where Anna Mary's days were full of household chores and tending to her children. It was only after she was widowed and the children were grown that she could turn once again to her first love - painting. Once her work was recognized she became known as Grandma Moses, and lived to see her work hung in museums throughout the world.

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