Throughout his three decades of exploring the ways children understand their worlds, child psychiatrist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Coles (Children in Crisis series; The Spiritual Life of Children ) has asked youngsters to draw pictures. He observes that ``often children don't want to talk very much'' and that his interaction with them has been limited by language and social barriers as well. He discovered that by drawing and painting, children can show ``what was happening,'' as notes a black girl at the forefront of the 1960s integration efforts in the South. Taking care to avoid overinterpretation, Coles first offers an extended illustrated essay about the realities of childhood as revealed in many of the 50 color reproductions here. He comments specifically in a second section on additional pictures drawn by Eskimo children, native American children living in the Southwest, and children raised in urban ghettos and rural backwoods in the U.S. and Central America, recalling each young artist and the context of each work. Seeing more than a visual life of children in these efforts, Coles shares an insightful and respectful glimpse of their inner lives. (Nov.)
In the latest of his acclaimed books, Coles ( The Moral Life of Children and The Political Life of Children , LJ 2/15/86; The Call of Stories , LJ 3/1/89; The Spiritual Life of Children , LJ 11/1/90) focuses on the artwork of children and the messages they project. Following a preface where he acknowledges the role of Anna Freud and William Carlos Williams (from whom the title is taken), Coles devotes the first half of the book to a discussion of art in relation to children's lives and to how one is better able to communicate with children using drawings as an intermediary. In the last half of the book, each full-page drawing by a child is accompanied by a full page of explanatory text (much of which is given by the child artist). This is an important purchase for academic libraries and large public libraries, and smaller libraries should consider.-- Kay Brodie, Chesapeake Coll., Wye Mills, Md.
As the United Nations' International Year of the Child approaches, Coles' brief, eloquent description of the value of children's art as both clinical tool and source for studies in social psychology is timely and touching. Like his mentors--child psychologist Anna Freud (for Coles' eponymous biography, see BKL Ja 15 92) and physician-poet William Carlos Williams, who introduced Coles to the communicative content of children's drawings and provided the title for this book--Coles celebrates each child's uniqueness as well as all children's dignity and humanity. What a child cannot say in words--because of fear or lack of self-confidence, physical or psychological scars, or language barriers--can be expressed with "inarticulate eloquence" in a drawing or painting. The 50 full-color reproductions in "Their Eyes Meeting the World" present the visions of children from several continents, religions, and cultures, while Coles' analyses explicate the drawings as well as his approach to children's art. A moving tribute to the wisdom of the world's children.