A Is for Art: An Abstract Alphabet
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A Is for Art: An Abstract Alphabet

by Stephen T. Johnson
     
 

A is for Art: An Abstract Alphabet is a remarkable journey of discovery about art and language through painting, collage, and sculpture by Caldecott Honor artist Stephen T. Johnson. With literal renderings of each letter, complete with witty titles and playful, alliterative captions, Johnson's abstract art forges connections between words, objects, and

Overview

A is for Art: An Abstract Alphabet is a remarkable journey of discovery about art and language through painting, collage, and sculpture by Caldecott Honor artist Stephen T. Johnson. With literal renderings of each letter, complete with witty titles and playful, alliterative captions, Johnson's abstract art forges connections between words, objects, and ideas.

Can you find the hidden letters? Look closely and you will see a letter C made of colorful candy, a letter H hidden in a hook, and an S in a soft shadow. From A to Z, each stunning, original work of art will stimulate the imagination and creativity of children and adults alike.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The artist creates a marvelously complex alphabet book that doubles as a trip to an art museum and a stint at a coffeee house poetry reading. Readers and listeners of all ages will enjoy seeing the original art and hearing the wordplay of each letter...An index provides details of the artist's works and shows us where the hidden letters are."— Connie Goldsmith, CALIFORNIA KIDS! Family Fun Guide
Becca Zerkin
For a magnificent medley of works produced over many years, some on a huge scale, read Stephen T. Johnson's A Is for Art: An Abstract Alphabet…The art is also just plain fun to look at. The colors and materials are eye-popping…This is a grown-up's alphabet, but for children it is also a whimsical introduction to the realm of abstract art.
—The New York Times
Children's Literature - Kathleen Karr
A Caldecott Honor winner for Alphabet City, the artist Stephen T. Johnson has decided to have another go at the alphabet—once again illustrated exclusively with his own art. As Johnson explains in his prefatory author's note, recently he has been focusing his work on interpretations of words from the English dictionary, thus the "literal abstractions" he presents in this new book. Running the gamut from abstract-paintings-cum-collage such as Blueberry Blues to the minimalism of his orange Object to the Rauschenberg-inspired spoons of Souvenir Series, Johnson does manage to connect his work to each letter of the alphabet—while also paying tribute to the major artistic movements of the later 20th century. Although it might take an art major to catch all the allusions, kids will just try to make the obvious visual connections. To help them out, appended to the book is an index to the individual art pieces that points out the location of each hidden letter. Reviewer: Kathleen Karr
School Library Journal

Gr 3 Up

This exciting alphabetic compendium began with a dictionary. Following years of study and work as a realistic painter, Johnson found himself wanting to explore abstract art. He started by collecting words for each letter of the alphabet. Then, he created a piece based on their meanings. For example, the caption for Dotty Diptych reads "Densely distributed dominoes, divided by dark and light dots on dual panels, disappear under drips of dramatically dashed paint dribbling downwards." Inside the white border of the page is the vivid reproduction of two wooden panels covered in dominoes. As with each of the 26 works of art, there is more to be discovered. Here, yellow and white paint covers some of the dominoes, transforming everyday game pieces into dimpled bricks. Also, Johnson has hidden a letter of the alphabet in most of his creations. The works vary from paintings and collages to sculptures to installations, and an index reveals the locations of the hidden letters as well as dimensions and materials for the pieces. Children will enjoy seeing everyday objects like candy used in his creations, and will no doubt be inspired to come up with some abstract art of their own. This book may easily spark discussions about what can be used to make art and who decides what it is. In an author's note, Johnson shares his thoughts on this matter. For more inspiration, see Joyce Raimondo's What's the Big Idea? Activities and Adventures in Abstract Art (Watson-Guptill, 2008).-Lisa Glasscock, Columbine Public Library, Littleton, CO

Kirkus Reviews
Johnson laces an exhilarating visual exploration of 20th-century art history with alliterative A-to-Z wordplay. The 26 paintings and sculptures, some gallery-sized in scope, cleverly combine specific objects, letterforms and even paint hues-all with names beginning with the illustrated letter. T's double spread, the three-paneled painting "Triptych," features "[t]hick-textured titanium paint" and "[t]en teal blue thumbprints" and includes tracing paper and tape-a "tiny three-dimensional toy to tease out trains of thought." The mix of media, visual problem-solving and stylistic derivations (Stuart Davis, Motherwell, de Kooning and others are invoked) make this a terrific springboard for student art extensions. Each composition usually sports the inclusion of the spread's featured letter, with occasional, rather fey textual allusions to "misplaced" letters: "(The omitted letter O occupies the upper left on the opposite page.)" A poignant author's note invites readers to contemplate two disparate art pieces from Johnson's youth, and a visual "index" reveals media, dimensions and a hidden letter key for each piece. Enigmatic and absorbing. (Informational picture book. 6-12)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780689863011
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
Publication date:
09/09/2008
Pages:
40
Sales rank:
956,149
Product dimensions:
9.10(w) x 12.10(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
5 - 9 Years

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Meet the Author

Stephen T. Johnson is the creator of such well-known children’s books as My Little Red Toolbox, a Publishers Weekly bestseller; My Little Blue Robot, a Newsweek Holiday pick; A is for Art: An Abstract Alphabet, an ALA Notable and a New York Times Best Illustrated Book of the Year; and Alphabet City, recipient of a Caldecott Honor, a New York Times Best Illustrated Book of the Year, and a Society of Illustrators Gold Medal. His artwork can be found in permanent and public collections including the National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, the DeKalb Avenue Subway Station in Brooklyn, New York, the Universal Metro Station in Los Angeles, California, and Love Field Airport in Dallas, Texas. Stephen is a professor at the University of Kansas and he lives in Lawrence, Kansas. Please visit him at StephenTJohnson.com.

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