Sparky: The Life and Art of Charles Schulz

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As the artist behind the beloved Peanuts comic strip for more than 50 years, Charles Schulzarguably the most famous cartoonist in the worldcreated a colorful cast of characters that continues to bring humor and comfort to millions of readers. In this distinctively designed yet highly accessible book, renowned children's biographer Beverly Gherman traces both the life events that shaped Schulz's art and the various ways in which art influenced his life in return. Acclaimed by artists ranging from Andrew Wyeth to ...
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Sparky: The Life and Art of Charles Schulz

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As the artist behind the beloved Peanuts comic strip for more than 50 years, Charles Schulzarguably the most famous cartoonist in the worldcreated a colorful cast of characters that continues to bring humor and comfort to millions of readers. In this distinctively designed yet highly accessible book, renowned children's biographer Beverly Gherman traces both the life events that shaped Schulz's art and the various ways in which art influenced his life in return. Acclaimed by artists ranging from Andrew Wyeth to Mo Willems, the artistic elements of Schulz's work are brought to life in a colorful layout and thoroughly explored in an enchanting text that will draw in even the most reluctant readers.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Gherman (Ansel Adams: American Photographer) presents an insightful portrait of Peanuts creator Schulz. She uses a sincere though never heavy tone that will draw readers in, as will the facts and anecdotes she has selected about Schulz, who got the nickname Sparky before he was even a week old. From his boyhood as an only child who loved the funny papers (and to draw) to his later years as a successful cartoonist whose life was cut short by cancer, Schulz always found inspiration for his art in his personal life. Shermy, an early Peanuts character, was named for Schulz’s closest childhood friend; Schulz’s mother suggested the name Snoopy for a family dog; and Lucy has the energy and loud opinions of Schulz’s oldest daughter. Oh, and there really was a red-haired girl. The book’s design--the pages and fonts are a literal rainbow of hues (black ink is all but absent)--suits its contents and makes them all the more accessible. Family photographs are plentiful, but the element sure to be most appreciated by fans is the inclusion of numerous Peanuts comic strips. Ages 9-up. (June)
From the Publisher
"From the engaging author's note to the moving conclusion, Gherman has written a loving tribute to an American icon.... Thank you, Charles Schulz, and thank you, Beverly Gherman, for letting us get to know Sparky." - San Jose Mercury News
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
The characters created by Charles Schulz for his Peanuts cartoon strip have become part of our lives. Gherman describes the breadth of Schulz's life from his childhood to his death in straightforward, succinct fashion. Along the way, she touches briefly on the few trials and disappointments of his generally successful life as the cartoonist he always wanted to be. Schulz was constantly drawing, from early boyhood on. He was also involved in sports like ice-skating and baseball, and these activities appear in the strips. He also included the names of friends in his comics. The rising importance of Peanuts is traced, along with Schulz's life with his growing family. His dignified exit from creating the strip and his subsequent death make a sad ending to this story. Pictures fill almost every small page, including a few historic photos and early cartoons, as well as drawings of single characters and complete cartoon strips. Many of the strips reflect some biographical event. The text is printed in red, white, or black depending on the given page color; this makes for a distracting layout. Don't miss the contrast of jacket and cover. A bibliography and an index are included. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
VOYA - Kathleen Beck
Who doesn't know the characters from "Peanuts": Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus and the rest? We instantly identify with Charlie Brown (never just Charlie), the consummate, wistful loser. Imperious Lucy acts out our fantasies of being the big boss, while Schroeder's studied avoidance of her will ring true with many a frustrated female. In creating the comic strip, Charles Schulz encapsulated human experience without ever introducing an adult. In this workmanlike biography, Gherman lays out the facts of Schulz's life and career. The reader moves straightforwardly from his childhood in Minnesota, where an uncle nicknamed him "Sparky" after a cartoon horse, through his military service in World War II, correspondence school art training, and gradually increasing success as a cartoonist. The real-life models for many of his characters appear with all their foibles. We meet his two wives, his children and his dog. Family photos and sample "Peanuts" strips illustrate the narrative. Book design is spacious with large print, lots of open space and colored pages. This biography provides a factual introduction to Schulz's work but does not go into the subtleties that endear the strip to many of today's young readers' parents. The format of the book will appeal to middle-schoolers who need a quick biography for class but older students will miss the deeper analysis that would make the cartoonist a fully-rounded person rather than something of a cartoon character himself. Reviewer: Kathleen Beck
School Library Journal
Gr 5–9—Upon initial glance, this volume resembles a gift book with its multicolored pages and large font. However, the text flows beautifully and is organized into 11 clear chapters that highlight important events and people in Schulz's life that influenced his work. Many Peanuts characters, for instance, were based on actual people. There was the "Red-Haired Girl," who was based on the woman who turned down Shulz's marriage proposal. Lucy was based on the artist's ex-wife. While Gherman paints her subject in an overall positive light as an adoring father and artistic perfectionist, she doesn't shy away from more difficult topics such as his initial difficulty finding employment, his mother's death, and his divorce. Old comic strips, drawings, and photographs are interspersed throughout and provide lively and appropriate support for the biography. A great recreational read as well as an adequate source for reports.—Kim T. Ha, Elkridge Branch Library, MD
Kirkus Reviews
Charles Schulz, nicknamed "Sparky," was the artist behind the Peanuts comic strip for more than 50 years and delighted the world with his popular characters-Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus and the rest of the gang-based on people the cartoonist knew. Readers will relish the opportunity to get the inside scoop on the beloved strip: Schulz wanted to call the strip "Li'l Folks," but that didn't fly with his employer; Charlie Brown's personality was born when Schulz's marriage proposal was rejected; Snoopy is the character who best mirrors Schulz's feelings about the meaning of life. Gherman's clear and direct prose is just right for portraying the life of the famous cartoonist for young readers. The splashy, bright design, with multicolored pages and several of Schulz's cartoons included, makes this a cheery read that may well introduce the Peanuts comic strip to a new generation, who likely know Charlie Brown mostly through the holiday TV specials. An informative yet lighthearted look at the life of an American icon. (author's note, bibliography, index) (Biography. 8-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780811867900
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books LLC
  • Publication date: 4/21/2010
  • Pages: 128
  • Sales rank: 348,793
  • Age range: 8 - 11 Years
  • Lexile: 960L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.80 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Beverly Gherman has written biographies about authors, dancers, presidents, scientists and, of course, artists. Her engaging child-accessible style has won her many fans and many awards, including a California Library Beatty Award, a Booklist Editor's Choice, an SCBWI Golden Kite Honor, a Smithsonian Notable Book, and an Oppenheimer Toy Portfolio Gold Award. Beverly lives in San Francisco.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 2013


    I read this book but not on my NOOK! It is a great book! *I gave a 5 star rank*

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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