Slice of Life - A Splash of Red - #sol14

Slice of Life is hosted by Two Writing Teachers on Tuesdays.  For the month of March, we are posting a slice daily.

Fetching the mail is not one of my favorite things to do. Lately, it seems that most of it is circular flyers and other kinds of junk.  If it isn't junk, then it is a bill.  Seldom do I receive honest to goodness real letters.  However today, there was a surprise in my mailbox.   It was addressed to me and was quite colorful.

Since June 2013, I had the pleasure of serving on the 2014 Schneider Family Book Award Jury. One of the books we selected was A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin by Jen Bryant and illustrated by Melissa Sweet.  If you haven't read it, you should.  It is fantastic.

Inside the envelope, two cards were attached to a cellophane wrapped picture. 

The envelopes contained handwritten notes from Jen and Melissa. Can I call them Jen and Melissa?

Under the notes was a specially wrapped print of one of the pages from the book, which was signed by Jen and Melissa.

I think I may have cried a little when I opened up the notes and read them. It was truly special and unexpected, and such a wonderful surprise to find when I arrived home.  I would hug this if I wasn't worried about crushing the print. I guess sleeping with it is out unless I want to mangle it. Best thing will be taking it to be framed so I can display it.

Thank you Jen and Melissa for creating such a special book as A Splash of Red, for the wonderful gift, and for being so amazing.  I can't wait to meet you in June, and I look forward to your next joint book, which comes out in the fall.

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - A Splash Of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin

Author: Jen Bryant
Illustrator: Melissa Sweet
Publisher: Knopf/Random House (January 8, 2013)
Source: Personal Copy
Read Aloud Level:  2nd to 4th grade
Independent Reading Level: 3rd to 5th grade
Art * Biographical * Nonfiction

Description from GoodReads:
As a child in the late 1800s, Horace Pippin loved to draw: He loved the feel of the charcoal as it slid across the floor. He loved looking at something in the room and making it come alive again in front of him. He drew pictures for his sisters, his classmates, his co-workers. Even during W.W.I, Horace filled his notebooks with drawings from the trenches . . . until he was shot. Upon his return home, Horace couldn't lift his right arm, and couldn't make any art. Slowly, with lots of practice, he regained use of his arm, until once again, he was able to paint--and paint, and paint! Soon, people—including the famous painter N. C. Wyeth—started noticing Horace's art, and before long, his paintings were displayed in galleries and museums across the country.

Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet team up once again to share this inspiring story of a self-taught painter from humble beginnings who despite many obstacles, was ultimately able to do what he loved, and be recognized for who he was: an artist.

My thoughts on the book:
The second picture book biography from the team of Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet looks at the life and art of Horace Pippin.  The book begins with Pippin's birth and childhood in West Chester, Pennsylvania at the end of the 19th century.  From the time he was a child until an injury in World War I, Pippin drew for people.  Often using charcoal and scraps of paper.  It took years for Pippin to regain his ability to draw after his injury.  He developed a new technique to accommodate his injured arm and began to work with paints and other materials. With the support of the painter, N.C. Wyeth, Pippin's work began to be viewed by people in an exhibition.  The world became aware of Pippin as an artist at this point.

Bryant's storytelling is supplemented by quotes from Pippin and those who knew of him and his work.  As I read the words Bryant had written, I sensed her appreciation and admiration for Pippin.  Readers will feel the partnership and the journey undertaken by author and illustrator.  Both Bryant and Sweet confirm this in their endnotes.  Sweet utilizes watercolor, gouache, and collage in her illustrations which bring both depth and texture to each illustration.

The picture above of Pippin drawing as a young child and the one below of the art supplies he won in a contest are two of my favorite pictures in the book. 

The end of the book contains a Historical Note on Horace Pipping, notes from the Author and Illustrator, Quotation Sources, and further Resources.  I am excited to introduce Horace Pippin to students and thankful to be able to do it with this particular book. I look forward to seeing this picture book biography in classrooms and school libraries.  

Look for A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin at a local independent bookstore or community library near you.

Don't forget to link up your nonfiction reviews below: