The Washington Post
Sandy's Circus: A Story About Alexander Calderby Tanya Lee Stone, Boris Kulikov (Illustrator)
As a boy, Alexander ?Sandy? Calder was always fiddling with odds and ends, making objects for friends. When he got older and became an artist, his fiddling led him to create wire sculptures. One day, Sandy made a lion. Next came a lion cage. Before he knew it, he had an entire circus and was traveling between Paris and New York performing a brand-new kind of art for amazed audiences.
This is the story of Sandy?s Circus, as told by Tanya Lee Stone with Boris Kulikov?s spectacular and innovative illustrations. Calder?s original circus is on permanent display at the Whitney Museum in New York City.
The Washington Post
Stone (Elizabeth Leads the Way) gives top billing to a minor but well-chosen aspect of Alexander (Sandy) Calder's distinguished career in a biography that kids can easily connect with. Her Sandy has not yet invented the mobile, but has combined a documented love of making things with a two-week stint drawing the Ringling Brothers circus for a New York paper: the next year, 1926, in Paris, his circus of miniature moveable performers is born. The author gracefully communicates the artist's resourcefulness and sense of play: "His huge hands worked with tiny pieces of wire, cork, cloth, buttons, yarn.... He twisted and shaped and curled and cut and curved until... Sandy was ready to put on a big-top circus show!" Kulikov (Fartiste) experiments with proportion and scale. Elements are often shown in black-and-white, as if sketched out and superimposed on full-color paintings. Spreads bring readers eye to eye with diminutive circus actors as Calder's gargantuan-seeming hands reach out from the shadows to control them. A classical muse, paint palette in hand, floats over scenes of a giant, suitcase-toting Calder tromping between the shrunken black-and-white skylines of Paris and New York City. Suggestive of Calder's whimsy. Ages 6-up. (Sept.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
What child-or adult-is not intrigued by a mobile: moving, swaying, changing in light and space as it intrigues and delights. Calder's name is nearly synonymous with these creations, and Stone and Kulikov spin out a fast-moving tale that is in keeping with their high-energy subject. From childhood, Sandy produced an array of objects for friends and family from found materials. As an adult, when hired to draw pictures of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, he took the project one step further, bringing the circus to life with bits of wire, cork, buttons, yarns, and string. Eventually, his creations filled five suitcases, and the performances included chariot races; bucking broncos; and high-wire acts that flipped, leaped, and danced in the air. Audiences loved it. Stone depicts Calder as a man utterly involved in his work, and Kulikov strengthens the premise using two differing styles of illustration-often on the same page. He portrays Calder in a Gulliver-like mode: stepping between New York and Paris in giant strides, forming his wire characters with hands that dominate an entire spread, and sprawling happily across the floor as part of the circus performance. These depictions, in full robust colors, often show Calder in childlike poses, interacting with the wire animals, oblivious to an artist muse who floats above him. In contrast, gray-shaded drawings with bold black lines sometimes crowd into the page, seemingly portraying the working "stuff" of Calder's bursting imagination: a jumbled mixture of tools and ideas that formed his extraordinary artistic creations.-Barbara Elleman, Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Amherst, MA
Meet the Author
Tanya Lee Stone has written many biographies for young readers. She lives in Burlington, Vermont.
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