Gr 5 Up-An engaging survey of outsider art, encompassing the works of patients, slaves, concentration- and internment-camp prisoners, and disadvantaged children living in modern blighted urban areas and developing nations. Each chapter focuses on one of these groups and includes both black-and-white and full-color photographs of the drawings, collages, paintings, toys, and quilts described in the text. The vivid, resilient life force radiating from these works contrasts sharply with the unimaginably bleak conditions under which they were created. Although Rubin does not shrink from detailing the casual violence of a modern ghetto or the cruelty of life in a Civil War prison camp, neither does she let it overshadow the vibrance and quality of the art that emerged from them. She merely makes the very cogent, inspiring argument that under inhumane circumstances, people are moved to protect and nurture their humanity in whatever way they can. Rubin has emphasized works by child artists, which lends a pleasing, egalitarian subtext to the whole. If young slaves can quilt maps to freedom, and girls in concentration camps can draw moving accounts of their lives, the book seems to say, then you can, too. Indeed, this artwork may speak more directly to some readers than the works on display in fine-arts museums. Back matter includes an excellent set of print references (those appropriate for younger readers are marked) as well as a good selection of links to blessedly stable URLs. This unique offering is a top priority for most libraries.-Sophie R. Brookover, Mount Laurel Library, NJ Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
"Outsider" art-that made by prisoners, the mentally ill, children, and women-form Rubin's subject, and she handles it fairly well in so small a volume. She aims her text at middle-graders, and the writing is not always smooth, however, she tackles a lot in four chapters. All self-taught, the subjects include the art of Henry Darger and Adolf Woffli, both schizophrenics; art made by those imprisoned, including convicts, children in concentration camps and in Japanese internment in the US during WWII; quilts made by slaves and by free women as narrative and symbol; and art made by young people from the South Bronx to Uganda. While she does make clear how art can be made in the harshest of circumstances, she doesn't address head-on the obvious need for human beings to make art no matter how desperate or squalid the situation. Many illustrations prove the one-picture/thousand-words equation. (Nonfiction. 9-12)