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Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat



written and illustrated by
Javaka Steptoe

Edition
Hardcover edition
Publisher
Hachette Book Group
Imprint
Little, Brown
ISBN
9780316213882

Awards and Honors
SLJ’s Best Books of 2016, Nonfiction
Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2016, Picture Books
Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2016, Picture Books
New York Public Library 2016 Best Books for Kids, Nonfiction
National Public Radio’s Guide to 2016 Great Reads
ALSC Notable Children’s Books 2017, All Ages
CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People 2017, K–2
The Nonfiction Detectives, 2016 Best Nonfiction Books for Children
2017 Capitol Choices, Seven to Ten
CSMCL Best Multicultural Books of 2016
The Washington Post Best Children’s and Young Adult Books of 2016
2017 Américas Award, Commended Title
POTENTIALLY SENSITIVE AREAS
None
$15.30   $12.75
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QTY
Out of stock

2017 Randolph Caldecott Medal Winner
Jean-Michael Basquiat and his unique, collage-style paintings rocketed to fame in the 1980s. But before that, he was a little boy who saw art everywhere. Note about the artwork. Bibliography. Further information about Jean-Michel Basquiat. Motifs and symbolism in Basquiet's work. Author's note. Full-color mixed-media illustrations.

POTENTIALLY SENSITIVE AREAS
None

Details

Format

Print

Page Count

40

Dewey

740.92 B

AR

4.7: points 0.5

Lexile

1050L

Genre

Nonfic

Scholastic Reading Counts

3

JLG Release

Feb 2017

Book Genres


Topics

Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960–1988). Artists and artworks. Biography. Brooklyn, New York. New York City.

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Cover Art

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Praise & Reviews

Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, Booklist, The Horn Book Magazine, Kirkus Reviews*, Publishers Weekly*, School Library Journal*

School Library Journal

[STARRED REVIEW]
One extraordinary artist illuminates another in this textured, heartfelt picture book biography of the 1980s cultural phenom. Employing signature features of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s work—vibrant colors, found objects, repeated motifs—Steptoe allows his own emotionally rich style to shine through the artistic and biographical references dotting the illustrations. Pieces of discarded wood from Basquiat’s stomping grounds fit together to form the painted surfaces for Steptoe’s scenes of the Afro Puerto Rican artist, each unfolding within a colored frame. Occasional collage elements of newsprint, photographs, and art materials add dimension and immediacy, highlighting both artists’ immersion in their work and surroundings. Adhering to a straightforward chronology, Steptoe addresses events in Basquiat’s life primarily as they affected his artistic growth from young boyhood in Brooklyn through the triumphant years as a critical and popular success in Manhattan. With minimal detail, the author sensitively touches upon his subject’s childhood car crash and his mother’s mental illness, though the story avoids his drug use and stops before his early death. Crucial back matter provides context for readers in every respect. Additional biographical information fleshes out the lyrical text of the main narrative, and an introduction to symbolism in Basquiat’s work helps readers appreciate the layers at play in Steptoe’s illustrations. An author’s note articulates feelings that radiate from every page of the book: Steptoe’s admiration for and attachment to Basquiat and his personal investment in depicting a complicated, loving relationship between a child and a mentally ill parent. VERDICT Pairing simple text with expressive, encompassing illustrations, this excellent title offers a new generation a fittingly powerful introduction to an artistic luminary.—Robbin E. Friedman, Chappaqua Library, NY

Horn Book

[STARRED REVIEW]
Picture books about artists are tricky. Should the illustrator mimic the subject’s style, or instead attempt to capture his or her essence? Steptoe does a little of both in this introduction to Jean-Michel Basquiat, one of the most visionary—and misunderstood—artists of his generation. Born in 1960 and raised in a loving, trilingual home in Brooklyn, Basquiat was encouraged by his parents (of Puerto Rican and Haitian descent) to follow his talent from an early age. The art world first took note of Basquiat’s graffiti art in the late 1970s. Later, his mixed-media paintings on unusual surfaces (such as windows and refrigerators) earned him a large following and several art shows, but during his short life he was often discouraged by racism, particularly when people labeled his style “primitive.” Steptoe focuses on the artist’s childhood, including a long recuperation after a car accident, and his mother’s mental illness and its influence on his art. Because Steptoe’s own style, with its vivid palette and use of found objects, is similar to Basquiat’s, he provides a close impression of the painter’s work, including many of the artist’s motifs. While Steptoe’s compositions are more representational than Basquiat’s and easier to “read,” they radiate a similar sense of energy and immediacy. For many personal reasons described in his heartfelt author’s note, Javaka Steptoe is the perfect person to create this book: a tour de force that will introduce an important artist to a new generation. Appended notes provide more information about Basquiat’s life and art; there is also a brief bibliography. lolly robinson

Praise & Reviews

School Library Journal

[STARRED REVIEW]
One extraordinary artist illuminates another in this textured, heartfelt picture book biography of the 1980s cultural phenom. Employing signature features of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s work—vibrant colors, found objects, repeated motifs—Steptoe allows his own emotionally rich style to shine through the artistic and biographical references dotting the illustrations. Pieces of discarded wood from Basquiat’s stomping grounds fit together to form the painted surfaces for Steptoe’s scenes of the Afro Puerto Rican artist, each unfolding within a colored frame. Occasional collage elements of newsprint, photographs, and art materials add dimension and immediacy, highlighting both artists’ immersion in their work and surroundings. Adhering to a straightforward chronology, Steptoe addresses events in Basquiat’s life primarily as they affected his artistic growth from young boyhood in Brooklyn through the triumphant years as a critical and popular success in Manhattan. With minimal detail, the author sensitively touches upon his subject’s childhood car crash and his mother’s mental illness, though the story avoids his drug use and stops before his early death. Crucial back matter provides context for readers in every respect. Additional biographical information fleshes out the lyrical text of the main narrative, and an introduction to symbolism in Basquiat’s work helps readers appreciate the layers at play in Steptoe’s illustrations. An author’s note articulates feelings that radiate from every page of the book: Steptoe’s admiration for and attachment to Basquiat and his personal investment in depicting a complicated, loving relationship between a child and a mentally ill parent. VERDICT Pairing simple text with expressive, encompassing illustrations, this excellent title offers a new generation a fittingly powerful introduction to an artistic luminary.—Robbin E. Friedman, Chappaqua Library, NY

Horn Book

[STARRED REVIEW]
Picture books about artists are tricky. Should the illustrator mimic the subject’s style, or instead attempt to capture his or her essence? Steptoe does a little of both in this introduction to Jean-Michel Basquiat, one of the most visionary—and misunderstood—artists of his generation. Born in 1960 and raised in a loving, trilingual home in Brooklyn, Basquiat was encouraged by his parents (of Puerto Rican and Haitian descent) to follow his talent from an early age. The art world first took note of Basquiat’s graffiti art in the late 1970s. Later, his mixed-media paintings on unusual surfaces (such as windows and refrigerators) earned him a large following and several art shows, but during his short life he was often discouraged by racism, particularly when people labeled his style “primitive.” Steptoe focuses on the artist’s childhood, including a long recuperation after a car accident, and his mother’s mental illness and its influence on his art. Because Steptoe’s own style, with its vivid palette and use of found objects, is similar to Basquiat’s, he provides a close impression of the painter’s work, including many of the artist’s motifs. While Steptoe’s compositions are more representational than Basquiat’s and easier to “read,” they radiate a similar sense of energy and immediacy. For many personal reasons described in his heartfelt author’s note, Javaka Steptoe is the perfect person to create this book: a tour de force that will introduce an important artist to a new generation. Appended notes provide more information about Basquiat’s life and art; there is also a brief bibliography. lolly robinson

Grades 2-6
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