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Children's LiteratureLike many budding artists, Neil Waldman grew up amid family storms, taking refuge in art from a very young age. In this beautifully produced autobiography Waldman probes his earliest art memories including finger painting, discovering Van Gogh, keeping journals and sketchbooks, and illustrating an imaginary kingdom underneath the Bronx for his younger brother. Art was a family affair. Neil's mother encouraged his work, providing him with a corner of the kitchen and later the whole living room as a studio in which his siblings could join him in practicing their craft. His beloved grandfather took him to The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. He watched an aunt working in her Woodstock studio during a summer visit. Waldman explicitly tells his readers that all his practice paid off. The material in his journals became material in his books and he improved his writing, drawing, and painting by doing it, over and over. Reproductions of works by family members—an aunt, an uncle, and two siblings—as well as the young Waldman illustrate the story and reinforce the family connection. Printed on heavy, glossy paper, the book has the look and heft of a true art book—one to be treasured. Upper elementary and middle school readers will appreciate this inside look at the development of a writer and illustrator whose artistic work—paintings and prints, books, book covers, posters, and postage stamps—has gone on to win numerous awards. 2006, Boyds Mills Press, Ages 10 to 14.