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Artists: Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best kids books about artists?

They say art is subjective, but they’ll change their minds once they see our ultimate list of books about artists! Whether your little ones are interested in painting, dance, writing, photography, music, or more, we’ve gathered the best books to educate your little prodigies and help them find their muse. We’re sure they’re going to create many masterpieces.

“Every artist was first an amateur.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Top 10 Books About Artists

#1
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The Trumpet of the Swan
Written by E.B. White
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
Swan Song Like the rest of his family, Louis is a trumpeter swan. But unlike his four brothers and sisters, Louis can't trumpet joyfully. In fact, he can't even make a sound. And since he can't trumpet his love, the beautiful swan Serena pays absolutely no attention to him. Louis tries everything he can think of to win Serena's affection--he even goes to school to learn to read and write. But nothing seems to work. Then his father steals him a real brass trumpet. Is a musical instrument the key to winning Louis his love?
#2
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The Dot
Written & illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom
All about a little girl's journey to discover her artistic talent but more especially her self-confidence! I love that after a little encouragement from her very wise and positive teacher, she takes it upon herself to pass along the lesson she learned to a little boy in her same predicament.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-10
Vashti believes that she cannot draw, but her art teacher's encouragement leads her to change her mind.
#3
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From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
Written by E.L. Konigsburg
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
2017 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the beloved classic From the Mixed-up files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. In this winner of the Newbery Medal from E.L. Konigsburg, when suburban Claudia Kincaid decides to run away, she knows she doesn't just want to run from somewhere, she wants to run to somewhere—to a place that is comfortable, beautiful, and, preferably, elegant.
#4
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The Art of Miss Chew
Written & illustrated by Patricia Polacco
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom
Patricia Polacco's signature illustration style vividly tells this emotional story based on her own childhood and her own start as an artist. I love the personal attention and care both Mr. Donovan and Miss Chew give her in helping her overcome her struggles with reading and also excel at her passion—art.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8
After spending the summer with her artist grandmother, Trisha knows she wants to be an artist, too. She’s thrilled when her sketches get her into Miss Chew’s special art class at the high school. A substitute teacher tells her she’s wasting time on art when she should be studying – but fortunately, this is one battle that Miss Chew and Trisha are up for! This true story shows just how important a teacher can be in a child’s life – and celebrates the power of art itself.
#5
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Coco Chanel
Written by Isabel Sanchez Vegara & illustrated by Ana Albero
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm
I think this darling board book is a great introduction to Coco Chanel. I love that it talks about her being herself and living her dreams. It also does a good job of telling the story of her journey to becoming a fashion designer.
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-5
Meet Coco Chanel, the world famous fashion designer! Now available as a board book in the Little People, Big Dreams series, this inspiring and informative little biography follows the life of the iconic first lady of fashion, from her early life in an orphanage – where she is a genius with needle and thread – to her time as a cabaret singer, hat maker and, eventually, international fashion designer. With stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back, this empowering series celebrates the important life stories of wonderful women of the world. From designers and artists to scientists, all of them went on to achieve incredible things, yet all of them began life as a little child with a dream. These books make the lives of these role models accessible for children, providing a powerful message to inspire the next generation of outstanding people who will change the world!
#6
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The Magical Life of Mr. Renny
Written & illustrated by Leo Timmers
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
When he is unable to sell his paintings and has no money for food, Mr. Renny meets a man who is able to make his paintings come to life.
#7
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Claudia & Moth
Written & illustrated by Jennifer Hansen Rolli
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-6
A small girl with a passion for nature turns to her new passion for art as the seasons turn colder. Claudia loves butterflies. Blue ones. Yellow ones. Purple ones with dots. And since she can’t take them home, she paints them in all their beautiful colors. But when winter comes, there are no more butterflies to paint…until she finds a little moth. Suddenly, Claudia sees winter in a whole new light.
#8
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Willow
Written by Denise Brennan-Nelson and Rosemarie Brennan & illustrated by Cyd Moore
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom
This book is a reminder that sometimes it's not the teachers who always have a profound impact on the students... sometimes it's the other way around. Willow's positivity, kindness and resilience despite continuous criticism from her art teacher allow her to break down barriers and touch her teacher's heart, changing her for the better. The illustrations are bright and just the right amount messy... just like Willow herself.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8
Miss Hawthorn's room is neat and tidy, not a pencil or paintbrush is out of place. And that's how she likes it. And she likes trees that are colored green and apples that are painted red. Miss Hawthorn does not like things to be different or out of the ordinary. Into Miss Hawthorn's classroom comes young Willow. She doesn't color inside the lines, she breaks crayons, and she sees pink trees and blue apples. What will Miss Hawthorn think? Magical things can happen when your imagination is allowed to run wild, and for Miss Hawthorn the notion of what is art and what is possible is forever changed.Willow is the first joint writing effort for sisters Denise Brennan-Nelson and Rosemarie Brennan. Denise's other Sleeping Bear Press books include Someday Is Not a Day of the Week and My Grandma Likes to Say. She lives in Howell, Michigan. Rosemarie Brennan juggles careers as a writing teacher and an author. She lives in Brighton, Michigan. Cyd Moore studied graphic design and fine arts at the University of Georgia. Her work includes posters, billboards, books, newspaper and magazine articles, and cassette and CD covers. She is the illustrator of I Love You, Stinky Face and I Miss You, Stinky Face. She lives in Commerce, Michigan.
#9
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The Art Lesson
Written & illustrated by Tomie dePaola
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-5
Having learned to be creative in drawing pictures at home, young Tommy is dismayed when he goes to school and finds the art lesson there much more regimented.
#10
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Cloth Lullaby
Written by Amy Novesky & illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-7
Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010) was a world-renowned modern artist noted for her sculptures made of wood, steel, stone, and cast rubber. Her most famous spider sculpture, Maman, stands more than 30 feet high. Just as spiders spin and repair their webs, Louise's own mother was a weaver of tapestries. Louise spent her childhood in France as an apprentice to her mother before she became a tapestry artist herself. She worked with fabric throughout her career, and this biographical picture book shows how Bourgeois's childhood experiences weaving with her loving, nurturing mother provided the inspiration for her most famous works. With a beautifully nuanced and poetic story, this book stunningly captures the relationship between mother and daughter and illuminates how memories are woven into us all.
Table of Contents
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Books About Artists and Imagination

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The Magical Life of Mr. Renny
Written & illustrated by Leo Timmers
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
When he is unable to sell his paintings and has no money for food, Mr. Renny meets a man who is able to make his paintings come to life.
Add to list
Willow
Written by Denise Brennan-Nelson and Rosemarie Brennan & illustrated by Cyd Moore
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom
This book is a reminder that sometimes it's not the teachers who always have a profound impact on the students... sometimes it's the other way around. Willow's positivity, kindness and resilience despite continuous criticism from her art teacher allow her to break down barriers and touch her teacher's heart, changing her for the better. The illustrations are bright and just the right amount messy... just like Willow herself.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8
Miss Hawthorn's room is neat and tidy, not a pencil or paintbrush is out of place. And that's how she likes it. And she likes trees that are colored green and apples that are painted red. Miss Hawthorn does not like things to be different or out of the ordinary. Into Miss Hawthorn's classroom comes young Willow. She doesn't color inside the lines, she breaks crayons, and she sees pink trees and blue apples. What will Miss Hawthorn think? Magical things can happen when your imagination is allowed to run wild, and for Miss Hawthorn the notion of what is art and what is possible is forever changed.Willow is the first joint writing effort for sisters Denise Brennan-Nelson and Rosemarie Brennan. Denise's other Sleeping Bear Press books include Someday Is Not a Day of the Week and My Grandma Likes to Say. She lives in Howell, Michigan. Rosemarie Brennan juggles careers as a writing teacher and an author. She lives in Brighton, Michigan. Cyd Moore studied graphic design and fine arts at the University of Georgia. Her work includes posters, billboards, books, newspaper and magazine articles, and cassette and CD covers. She is the illustrator of I Love You, Stinky Face and I Miss You, Stinky Face. She lives in Commerce, Michigan.
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Draw!
Written & illustrated by Raúl Colón
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Based on his own childhood, beloved and award-winning artist Raúl Colón’s wordless book is about the limitless nature of creativity and imagination. A boy alone in his room. Pencils. Sketchbook in hand. What would it be like to go on safari? Imagine. Draw… A boy named Leonardo begins to imagine and then to draw a world afar—first a rhinoceros, and then he meets some monkeys, and he always has a friendly elephant at his side. Soon he finds himself in the jungle and carried away by the sheer power of his imagination, seeing the world through his own eyes and making friends along the way.
Honorable Mentions
Keith Haring: The Boy Who Just Kept Drawing book
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The Amazing Collection of Joey Cornell book
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The Artist who Painted a Blue Horse book
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I Have an Idea! book
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  1. Keith Haring: The Boy Who Just Kept Drawing - Iconic pop artist Keith Haring comes to life for young readers in this picture book biography lovingly written by his sister This one-of-a-kind book explores the life and art of Keith Haring from his childhood through his meteoric rise to fame. It sheds light on this important artist’s great humanity, his concern for children, and his disregard for the establishment art world. Reproductions of Keith’s signature artwork appear in scenes boldly rendered by Robert Neubecker. This is a story to inspire, and a book for Keith Haring fans of all ages to treasure.

  2. The Amazing Collection of Joey Cornell - Joey Cornell collected everything — anything that sparked his imagination or delighted his eye. His collection grew and grew until he realized that certain pieces just looked right together. He assembled his doodads to create wonderful, magical creations out of once ordinary objects. Perfect for introducing art to kids, here’s an imaginative and engaging book based on the childhood of great American artist Joseph Cornell, told by master picture book author Candace Fleming and lauded illustrator Gérard DuBois.

  3. The Artist who Painted a Blue Horse - Every child has an artist inside them, and this vibrant picture book from Eric Carle will help let it out. The artist in this book paints the world as he sees it, just like a child. There’s a red crocodile, an orange elephant, a purple fox and a polka-dotted donkey. More than anything, there’s imagination. Filled with some of the most magnificently colorful animals of Eric Carle’s career, this tribute to the creative life celebrates the power of art.

  4. I Have an Idea! - From one of the true creative geniuses of this generation comes a unique meditation on and celebration of the magic of the birth of a simple idea. Sparkling with visual wit and bubbling with imagination, this is a richly emotional exploration of the creative process: from an initial tentative inkling, to the frustration of chasing the wrong notion, to finally the exhilaration of capturing—and nurturing—just the right idea. I Have an Idea! is a scrumptious cloth-spined package of color and inspiration equally at home on a child’s bookshelf, in a new graduate’s backpack, or atop a creative’s desk.

Books About Artists and Friendship

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The Trumpet of the Swan
Written by E.B. White
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
Swan Song Like the rest of his family, Louis is a trumpeter swan. But unlike his four brothers and sisters, Louis can't trumpet joyfully. In fact, he can't even make a sound. And since he can't trumpet his love, the beautiful swan Serena pays absolutely no attention to him. Louis tries everything he can think of to win Serena's affection--he even goes to school to learn to read and write. But nothing seems to work. Then his father steals him a real brass trumpet. Is a musical instrument the key to winning Louis his love?
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A Dragon's Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans
Written by Laurence Yep and Joanne Ryder & illustrated by Mary GrandPré
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm
This humorous story of a dragon and her "pet" human takes you on an adventure with plenty of mayhem, as Winnie's sketchbook brings her drawings to life! It takes teamwork to fix the chaos Winnie accidentally created, but this story of adventure is so fun with all the humor weaved inside! You'll laugh with and love these characters.
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
Fans of How to Train Your Dragon will love this whimsical tale, the first in a series, by a Newbery Honor winner, featuring charming illustrations and pet "training tips" in each chapter. Crusty dragon Miss Drake has a new pet human, precocious Winnie. Oddly enough, Winnie seems to think Miss Drake is her pet—a ridiculous notion! Unknown to most of its inhabitants, the City by the Bay is home to many mysterious and fantastic creatures, hidden beneath the parks, among the clouds, and even in plain sight. And Winnie wants to draw every new creature she encounters: the good, the bad, and the ugly. But Winnie’s sketchbook is not what it seems. Somehow, her sketchlings have been set loose on the city streets! It will take Winnie and Miss Drake’s combined efforts to put an end to the mayhem . . . before it’s too late. This refreshing debut collaboration by Laurence Yep, a two-time Newbery Honor winner and a Laura Ingalls Wilder Award winner, and Joanne Ryder features illustrations by Mary GrandPré.      Praise for A Dragon's Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans *“Warm humor, magical mishaps, and the main characters’ budding mutual respect and affection combine to give this opener for a planned series a special shine.” –Booklist, Starred “Aternately comical, suspenseful and sometimes sweetly emotional.” –Kirkus Reviews “With a black-and-white spot illustration opening most chapters, an engaging narrator, and a consistently fluid writing style, this title makes a fine dragon choice for readers.” –School Library Journal “In this series launch, Yep and Ryder conjure up a world where dragons and humans interact, and the results are heartwarming and quite funny.” –Publishers Weekly “A clever and amusing novel that imagines a magical world that nestles right up against our own and sometimes crosses over.” –The Bulleting of the Center for Children’s Books   Praise for A Dragon’s Guide to Making Your Human Smarter "Yep and Ryder keep the magic coming with their whimsical fantasy, enhanced by Grandpré's sweet drawings. The story positively vibrates with fun." —Kirkus Reviews "Lighthearted episodes of unusual school lessons and field trips, illustrated by GrandPré’s winsome spot art, are grounded by Miss Drake’s more serious encounters with the goons...a gratifying development as this buoyant, fantastical series continues."—The Horn Book Review
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Art Barn (Noah's Park)
Written & illustrated by Sam Williams
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-5
Welcome to Noah’s Park! From celebrated author and illustrator Sam Williams comes a brand-new board book series for preschoolers about a group of cute, cuddly critters who meet each day for a new adventure. In this first book, it’s time to paint at the Art Barn! A sweet board book series with irresistible art, this book is perfect for preschoolers looking to see their own first experiences mirrored with these new friends.
Honorable Mentions
Square book
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Van Gogh and the Sunflowers book
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Outside In book
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Rabbityness book
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  1. Square - The beguiling second entry in the innovative shape trilogy by multi-award-winning, New York Times best-selling duo Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen. This book is about Square. Square spends every day taking blocks from a pile below the ground to a pile above the ground. This book is also about Square’s friend Circle. Circle thinks Square is an artistic genius. But is he really? With the second story in a trilogy of tales about Triangle, Square, and Circle, Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen nudge readers toward a more well-rounded way of looking at things. Understated and striking in its simplicity, this funny, thoughtful offering from two of today’s most talented picture-book creators emphasizes the importance of keeping your eyes — and your mind — open to wonder where others see only rubble and rocks.

  2. Van Gogh and the Sunflowers - Young Camille befriends a strange visitor to his small town, and one day he brings this man a gift of bright, beautiful sunflowers. The man is the artist Vincent van Gogh, and the sunflowers quickly become the subject of a magnificent painting. This is a title in Barron’s Anholt’s Artists Books for Children series, in which author and illustrator Laurence Anholt recalls memorable and sometimes amusing moments when the lives of the artists were touched by children. Anholt’s fine illustrations appear on every page and include reproductions of works by the artists.

  3. Outside In - “A compassionate story of homelessness and friendship, recycled art and community.” —Kirkus Reviews A twelve-year-old boy living on the streets of Chandigarh, India, stumbles across a secret garden full of sculptures and sees the possibility of another way of life as he bonds with the man who is creating the garden in this searingly beautiful novel—based on a true story. Twelve-year-old Ram is a street boy living behind a sign on a building’s rooftop, barely scraping by, winning games of gilli for money, occasionally given morsels of food through the kindness of Mr. Singh, a professor and father of his friend Daya. But his prowess at gilli (an outdoor game similar to cricket) is what gets him into big trouble. One day, when he wins against some schoolboys fair and square, the boys are infuriated. As they chase Ram across town, he flings his small sack of money over a factory gate where no one can get it, and disappears into the alleyways. But someone does get the money, Ram discovers when he sneaks back later on to rescue what is his—a strange-ish man on a bike who also seems to be collecting…rocks? Ram follows the man into the jungle, where he finds something unlike anything he’s seen—statues, hundreds of statues…no, thousands of them! Gods and goddesses and buildings, all at half scale. What is this place? It seems that the rock collecting man, Nek, has built them all! When Nek discovers that Ram has followed him, he has no choice but to let the boy stay and earn back the money Nek has already spent. How else can he keep him quiet? For his creations lie on land that isn’t technically his to build on. As Ram and Nek hesitantly become friends, Ram learns the true nature of this hidden village in the jungle, as well as the stories of Shiva and Lord Rama, stories of gods and goddesses that in strange ways seem to parallel Ram’s…and Nek’s. Based on the true story of one of India’s most beloved artists and modern day folk heroes, Nek Chand was a real man—a man displaced from his home in the midst of war and conflict; a man who missed his home so terribly he illegally reconstructed his entire village in miniature out of found objects and rock, recreating mosaic statues and sculptures spanning acres of jungle. Though Ram is a fictionalized character, Nek’s artwork is real. Intertwined with mythology and the sociopolitics of India, this is an exquisitely wrought, unexpected, and singular tale about the connection of community and how art can help make us human.

  4. Rabbityness - Tells the story of a rabbit whose love of music and art inspires other rabbits even after he disappears.

Books About Artists and Female Role Models

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Coco Chanel
Written by Isabel Sanchez Vegara & illustrated by Ana Albero
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm
I think this darling board book is a great introduction to Coco Chanel. I love that it talks about her being herself and living her dreams. It also does a good job of telling the story of her journey to becoming a fashion designer.
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-5
Meet Coco Chanel, the world famous fashion designer! Now available as a board book in the Little People, Big Dreams series, this inspiring and informative little biography follows the life of the iconic first lady of fashion, from her early life in an orphanage – where she is a genius with needle and thread – to her time as a cabaret singer, hat maker and, eventually, international fashion designer. With stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back, this empowering series celebrates the important life stories of wonderful women of the world. From designers and artists to scientists, all of them went on to achieve incredible things, yet all of them began life as a little child with a dream. These books make the lives of these role models accessible for children, providing a powerful message to inspire the next generation of outstanding people who will change the world!
Add to list
Cloth Lullaby
Written by Amy Novesky & illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-7
Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010) was a world-renowned modern artist noted for her sculptures made of wood, steel, stone, and cast rubber. Her most famous spider sculpture, Maman, stands more than 30 feet high. Just as spiders spin and repair their webs, Louise's own mother was a weaver of tapestries. Louise spent her childhood in France as an apprentice to her mother before she became a tapestry artist herself. She worked with fabric throughout her career, and this biographical picture book shows how Bourgeois's childhood experiences weaving with her loving, nurturing mother provided the inspiration for her most famous works. With a beautifully nuanced and poetic story, this book stunningly captures the relationship between mother and daughter and illuminates how memories are woven into us all.
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Rosa's Animals
Written & illustrated by Maryann Macdonald
picture book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
Painter and sculptor Rosa Bonheur (1822-1899) led a highly nontraditional life, especially for a woman in the nineteenth century. She kept lions as pets, was awarded the Legion of Honor by Empress Eug�nie, and befriended "Buffalo Bill" Cody. She became a painter at a time when women were often only reluctantly educated as artists. Her unconventional artistic work habits, including visiting slaughterhouses to sketch an animal's anatomy and wearing men's clothing to gain access to places like a horse fair, where women were not allowed, helped her become one of the most beloved female painters of her time. Among the artworks discussed are The Horse Fair and Ploughing in the Nivernais. Along with her life story are a list of museums that house her work, a bibliography, and an index.
Honorable Mentions
Saving the Countryside: The Story of Beatrix Potter and Peter Rabbit book
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The Bluest of Blues book
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Little Dreamers: Visionary Women Around the World book
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Along Came Coco book
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  1. Saving the Countryside: The Story of Beatrix Potter and Peter Rabbit - “An exceptionally accurate portrait of Beatrix Potter told with humor and surprise. Beautifully done.” Linda Lear, author of Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature Through she’s universally known as the creator of The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Beatrix Potter did so much more. This is the true story about how she helped save the English countryside! Growing up in London, Beatrix Potter felt the restraints of Victorian times. Girls didn’t go to school and weren’t expected to work. But she longed to do something important, something that truly mattered. As Beatrix spent her summers in the country and found inspiration in nature, it was through this passion that her creativity flourished. There, she crafted The Tale of Peter Rabbit. She would eventually move to the countryside full-time, but developers sought to change the land. To save it, Beatrix used the money from the success of her books and bought acres and acres of land and farms to prevent the development of the countryside that both she and Peter Rabbit so cherished. Because of her efforts, it’s been preserved just as she left it. This beautiful picture book shines a light on Beatrix Potter’s lesser-known history and her desire to do something for the greater good.

  2. The Bluest of Blues - A gorgeous picture book biography of botanist and photographer Anna Atkins—the first person to ever publish a book of photography After losing her mother very early in life, Anna Atkins (1799-1871) was raised by her loving father. He gave her a scientific education, which was highly unusual for women and girls in the early 19th century. Fascinated with the plant life around her, Anna became a botanist. She recorded all her findings in detailed illustrations and engravings, until the invention of cyanotype photography in 1842. Anna used this new technology in order to catalogue plant specimens—a true marriage of science and art. In 1843, Anna published the book Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions with handwritten text and cyanotype photographs. It is considered the first book of photographs ever published. Weaving together histories of women, science, and art, The Bluest of Blues will inspire young readers to embark on their own journeys of discovery and creativity.

  3. Little Dreamers: Visionary Women Around the World - The instant New York Times bestseller! From the author of Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History comes the highly anticipated follow-up, a beautifully illustrated collectible detailing the lives of women creators around the world. Featuring the true stories of 35 women creators, ranging from writers to inventors, artists to scientists, Little Dreamers: Visionary Women Around the World inspires as it educates. Readers will meet trailblazing women like Mary Blair, an American modernist painter who had a major influence on how color was used in early animated films, actor/inventor Hedy Lamarr, environmental activist Wangari Maathai, architect Zaha Hadid, filmmaker Maya Deren, and physicist Chien-Shiung Wu. Some names are known, some are not, but all of the women had a lasting effect on the fields they worked in. The charming, information-filled full-color spreads show the Dreamers as both accessible and aspirational so readers know they, too, can grow up to do something amazing.

  4. Along Came Coco - In a time when children were meant to be seen and not heard, along came Coco, a small French orphan with an eye for style, a talent for sewing, and a big imagination. Coco grew up in an orphanage run by very strict nuns, but she wasn’t very good at following rules. At a time when girls were told to brush their hair 100 times until their arms were sore, Coco promised herself that one day she would snip away her locks so that she wouldn’t have to be so fussy—girls needed time for other things, and they needed some of the comforts that boys enjoyed. Why shouldn’t girls have pockets? And why did they have to wear corsets all the time? An exploration of Coco’s early life and a celebration of her creativity, Along Came Coco ​shows the ways in which Coco Chanel’s imaginative spirit led her to grow into one of the world’s most beloved fashion icons.

Books About Artists and Social Themes

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The Dot
Written & illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom
All about a little girl's journey to discover her artistic talent but more especially her self-confidence! I love that after a little encouragement from her very wise and positive teacher, she takes it upon herself to pass along the lesson she learned to a little boy in her same predicament.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-10
Vashti believes that she cannot draw, but her art teacher's encouragement leads her to change her mind.
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The Art of Miss Chew
Written & illustrated by Patricia Polacco
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom
Patricia Polacco's signature illustration style vividly tells this emotional story based on her own childhood and her own start as an artist. I love the personal attention and care both Mr. Donovan and Miss Chew give her in helping her overcome her struggles with reading and also excel at her passion—art.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8
After spending the summer with her artist grandmother, Trisha knows she wants to be an artist, too. She’s thrilled when her sketches get her into Miss Chew’s special art class at the high school. A substitute teacher tells her she’s wasting time on art when she should be studying – but fortunately, this is one battle that Miss Chew and Trisha are up for! This true story shows just how important a teacher can be in a child’s life – and celebrates the power of art itself.
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Let's Go, Hugo!
Written & illustrated by Angela Dominguez
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6
Hugo is a dapper little bird who adores the Eiffel Tower—or at least his view of it from down here. Hugo, you see, has never left the ground. So when he meets another bird, the determined Lulu, who invites him to fly with her to the top of the tower, Hugo stalls, persuading Lulu to see, on foot, every inch of the park in which he lives instead. Will a nighttime flying lesson from Bernard the Owl, some sweet and sensible encouragement from Lulu, and some extra pluck from Hugo himself finally give this bird the courage he needs to spread his wings and fly?
Honorable Mentions
When Pencil Met Eraser book
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Pencil's Perfect Picture book
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The Crossroads book
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The Collector of Moments book
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  1. When Pencil Met Eraser - Ever wonder why there’s a little pink eraser on every pencil? Find out in this funny, clever picture book that tells the true story of how Pencil and Eraser became the best of friends. When Pencil draws on the pages of this book, Eraser erases parts of Pencil’s work, and the book itself becomes a canvas for their different takes on creativity—until the two discover their artwork is even better when they work together. From Karen Kilpatrick, Luis O. Ramos, and illustrator Germán Blanco, When Pencil Met Eraser brings to life something kids use every day at school and at home. Engaging art, adorable characters, and a clever ending create a memorable message about friendship and creativity.

  2. Pencil's Perfect Picture - Pencil is trying to draw the perfect picture for his dad. So, he asks his friends Brush, Pastel, Marker, Crayon, and Chalk what makes their art perfect. But they each have a different answer. How will Pencil be able to create his own perfect picture?

  3. The Crossroads - Jaime and Ángela discover what it means to be living as undocumented immigrants in the United States in this timely sequel to the Pura Belpré Honor Book The Only Road. After crossing Mexico into the United States, Jaime Rivera thinks the worst is over. Starting a new school can’t be that bad. Except it is, and not just because he can barely speak English. While his cousin Ángela fits in quickly, with new friends and after-school activities, Jaime struggles with even the idea of calling this strange place “home.” His real home is with his parents, abuela, and the rest of the family; not here where cacti and cattle outnumber people, where he can no longer be himself—a boy from Guatemala. When bad news arrives from his parents back home, feelings of helplessness and guilt gnaw at Jaime. Gang violence in Guatemala means he can’t return home, but he’s not sure if he wants to stay either. The US is not the great place everyone said it would be, especially if you’re sin papeles—undocumented—like Jaime. When things look bleak, hope arrives from unexpected places: a quiet boy on the bus, a music teacher, an old ranch hand. With his sketchbook always close by, Jaime uses his drawings to show what it means to be a true citizen. Powerful and moving, this touching sequel to The Only Road explores overcoming homesickness, finding ways to connect despite a language barrier, and discovering what it means to start over in a new place that alternates between being wonderful and completely unwelcoming.

  4. The Collector of Moments - A solitary boy is drawn to his mysterious new neighbor, an artist named Max. He spends hours in Max’s studio, but Max is secretive and does not show the boy his pictures — until he departs on a journey and leaves behind a surprise exhibition for his young friend. Max’s pictures are strange and beautiful. They depict a realm where things, familiar at first glance, nevertheless behave in the most surprising and unpredictable ways. In this spellbinding picture book, the reader joins the boy in contemplating these challenging images, in a celebration of the power of art to transform the everyday into something magical.

Books About Artists and History

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If Picasso Painted a Snowman
Written by Amy Newbold & illustrated by Greg Newbold
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm
Such a fun book showing how all artists have different styles. It walks through famous painters and what their snowmen might look like. I love this introduction to famous artists and their styles! It's also super fun that there's a blank canvas at the end for you to copy and create your own snowman with your own style.
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom
This was a great introduction to a host of very famous painters in an approachable and entirely enjoyable way, demonstrating what a snowman might look like in each of their signature styles!
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-11
-If someone asked you to paint a snowman, you would probably start with three white circles stacked one upon another. Then you would add black dots for eyes, an orange triangle for a nose, and a black dotted smile. But if Picasso painted a snowman....-
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Henri's Scissors
Written & illustrated by Jeanette Winter
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8
An introduction to the life and paper-cutout art of Henri Matisse describes his early sketching hobby, famous paintings and the illness that confined him to a wheelchair and inspired his sophisticated paper-cutout masterworks.
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Kid Artists
Written by David Stabler & illustrated by Doogie Horner
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12
"The series that began with Kid Presidents and Kid Athletes has a new volume that chronicles the childhoods of 16 celebrated artists-everyone from Claude Monet and Vincent van Gogh to Mary Cassat, Frida Kahlo, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and even Dr. Seuss! Readers will learn- A Georgia O'Keeffe was so enthralled by nature that she once ate dirt just to see what it tasted like. A Jackson Pollock lost the top of his right index finger in a childhood accident (and the severed tip was eaten by a rooster!). A Andy Warhol's favorite childhood lunch was-what else?-a bowl of Campbell's tomato soup. Every scribble, sketch, and sticky situation comes to life in these kid-friendly and relatable stories, all with Doogie Horner's trademark whimsical illustrations. Kid Artists is a delight for budding artists and eager readers alike."
Honorable Mentions
This Little Artist book
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A Home book
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Little Guides to Great Lives: Leonardo Da Vinci book
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Color Train book
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  1. This Little Artist - Painting, shaping, making art. With creative joy, hands, and heart. Little artists have great big imaginations. In this follow up to This Little President, This Little Explorer, This Little Trailblazer, and This Little Scientist now even the youngest readers can learn all about great and empowering artists in history! Highlighting ten memorable artists who paved the way, parents and little ones alike will love this creativity primer full of fun, age-appropriate facts and bold illustrations.

  2. A Home - Sixteen of Larsson’s watercolors of his home and family are accompanied by text explaining the pictures and something of the life of this great Swedish artist.

  3. Little Guides to Great Lives: Leonardo Da Vinci - Most famous as the painter who created the Mona Lisa, Leonardo da Vinci is also one of history’s greatest geniuses-he was a mathematician, architect, astronomer, scientist, and musician. and he even invented the helicopter! From artists to aviators and scientists to revolutionaries, Little Guides to Great Lives is a brand new series of small-format guides introducing children to the most inspirational figures from history in a fun, accessible way. Launching with Leonardo da Vinci, Marie Curie, Nelson Mandela, and Amelia Earhart, Little Guides to Great Lives tells the stories of the most amazing people from all over the world and across history, with full-color illustrations and fresh design to bring their incredible stories to life.

  4. Color Train - All aboard the Color Train! This adorable two-in-one board book featuring 18 world famous artists unfolds into a 56” train bursting with color and art.

Books About Artists and Imagination And Play

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Claudia & Moth
Written & illustrated by Jennifer Hansen Rolli
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-6
A small girl with a passion for nature turns to her new passion for art as the seasons turn colder. Claudia loves butterflies. Blue ones. Yellow ones. Purple ones with dots. And since she can’t take them home, she paints them in all their beautiful colors. But when winter comes, there are no more butterflies to paint…until she finds a little moth. Suddenly, Claudia sees winter in a whole new light.
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I Can Dance
Written & illustrated by Betsy Snyder
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom
While the cover might be classified as "girly" by some (don't get me started on the boy books/girl books discussion!), the inside is packed with examples of all types of dance (disco, gymnastics, break-dancing, synchronized swimming, and tap dancing) being executed by both little boy and little girl dancers, so there's plenty of gender diversity going on. The holes for sticking your fingers through to be the dancers legs on each page are fun, both at the baby stage where they try to grab your fingers and giggle as you wiggle them around and as munchkins get older and can do it themselves. The verdict—cute interactive book for getting some of the wiggles out!
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-6
Readers make dancers disco, tap, or pirouette just by wiggling their fingers. But wait! There's even more fun. In an impressive gatefold finale, readers use two sets of hands to help the dancers perform an encore. With interactive holes on every page and a satisfying touch-and-feel cover, this charming board book is the perfect way to play and read together.
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The Magical Ice Palace
Written by Suzanne Smith and Lindsay Taylor & illustrated by Marnie Maurri
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-99
Doodle Girl uses her magic pencil to create adventures by transforming doodles into fantastical lands, full of amazing animals! On their latest outing, Doodle Girl and her friends find a curly, curvy shape. What is it supposed to be? While trying to work it out, they find a sad, lonely mammoth high up on a mountain. What’s he doing there? Will Doodle Girl be able to help him? And what is the curly curvy shape going to be? Find out in this gorgeous picture book that inspires creativity and fun—and includes a giant, free doodling poster and stickers.
Honorable Mentions
Crocodali book
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Isabella, Artist Extraordinaire book
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Anywhere Artist book
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Crafty Llama book
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  1. Crocodali - Help Crocodali, the most talented painter in the whole wide world, create a masterpiece by tilting, shaking, rubbing, and blowing on the book. I am Crocodali, the most talented painter in the whole wide world. And you are in my studio! In this interactive picture book, children can follow Crocodali the painter’s instructions to help him create a masterpiece that will spark children’s curiosity! Crocodali tells readers to tilt the book to straighten the canvas, shake the book to spread the paint, blow on the book (but not too hard!) to help the painting dry, and much more. As they help Crocodali paint his masterpiece, children will be able to express their creative sides and learn to appreciate art.

  2. Isabella, Artist Extraordinaire - When Isabella has a day off from school, her mother suggests doing something special. Instead, Isabella walks her parents through all of the exciting things they could do as she imagines herself in famous paintings ranging from Van Gogh’s The Starry Night to Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans. Through her musings, Isabella creates a wondrous museum of her own making, showing how home can be the most special place of all!

  3. Anywhere Artist - Anyone can make art anywhere, anytime, with anything! Follow a young artist as she moves through a number of natural environments, creating gorgeous artworks along the way from natural materials. Stunning hand-crafted illustrations with handlettered text. An ideal springboard for your own creations!

  4. Crafty Llama - Llama loves to make things. It doesn’t matter what, really—something special, something lovely. Beaver loves to make things, too. But he likes things to be useful. On this lovely day, Llama is inspired. She is having fun making things, like gifts for her friends. And soon many of her friends are inspired right along with her. But Beaver needs to think about what Llama and the other animals are making. What useful thing can he do with this day? With lots of craftiness and fun, this is a delightful story about how something lovely can be useful, too, and how the best gifts are the ones that bring us together.

Books About Artists and Writing

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A Poem for Peter
Written by Andrea Davis Pinkney & illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher
picture book
Recommend Ages: 7-10
A celebration of the extraordinary life of Ezra Jack Keats, creator of The Snowy Day. The story of The Snowy Day begins more than one hundred years ago, when Ezra Jack Keats was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. The family were struggling Polish immigrants, and despite Keats’s obvious talent, his father worried that Ezra’s dream of being an artist was an unrealistic one. But Ezra was determined. By high school he was winning prizes and scholarships. Later, jobs followed with the WPA and Marvel comics. But it was many years before Keats’s greatest dream was realized and he had the opportunity to write and illustrate his own book. For more than two decades, Ezra had kept pinned to his wall a series of photographs of an adorable African American child. In Keats’s hands, the boy morphed into Peter, a boy in a red snowsuit, out enjoying the pristine snow; the book became The Snowy Day, winner of the Caldecott Medal, the first mainstream book to feature an African American child. It was also the first of many books featuring Peter and the children of his — and Keats’s — neighborhood. Andrea Davis Pinkney’s lyrical narrative tells the inspiring story of a boy who pursued a dream, and who, in turn, inspired generations of other dreamers.
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Our Story Begins
Written & illustrated by Elissa Brent Weissman
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
From award-winning author Elissa Brent Weissman comes a collection of quirky, smart, and vulnerable childhood works by some of today’s foremost children’s authors and illustrators—revealing young talent, the storytellers they would one day become, and the creativity they inspire today.Everyone’s story begins somewhere...For Linda Sue Park, it was a trip to the ocean, a brand-new typewriter, and a little creative license. For Jarrett J. Krosoczka, it was a third grade writing assignment that ignited a creative fire in a kid who liked to draw. For Kwame Alexander, it was a loving poem composed for Mother’s Day—and perfected through draft after discarded draft. For others, it was a teacher, a parent, a beloved book, a word of encouragement. It was trying, and failing, and trying again. It was a love of words, and pictures, and stories.Your story is beginning, too. Where will it go?
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Writing Radar
Written by Jack Gantos
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12
The Newbery Award–winning author of Dead End in Norvelt shares advice for how to be the best brilliant writer in this funny and practical creative writing guide perfect for all kids who dream of seeing their name on the spine of a book. With the signature wit and humor that have garnered him legions of fans, Jack Gantos instructs young writers on using their "writing radar" to unearth story ideas from their everyday lives. Incorporating his own misadventures as a developing writer, Gantos inspires readers to build confidence and establish good writing habits as they create, revise, and perfect their stories. Pop-out text boxes highlight key tips, alongside Gantos's own illustrations, sample stories, and snippets from his childhood journals. More than just a how-to guide, Writing Radar is a celebration of the power of storytelling and an ode to the characters who—many unwittingly—inspired Gantos's own writing career.
Honorable Mentions
Flights of Fancy book
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Dear Hank Williams book
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Little Leonardo's Fascinating World of the Arts book
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  1. Flights of Fancy - In a beautiful anthology, ten children’s book greats share stories, poems, pictures, tips, and prompts meant to inspire young readers to create works of their own. Have you ever sparked the start of a story by playing a game of What if? Is there any value to all that doodling you do? What does being “a sponge” have to do with facing down a blank page? Did you know that pictures can sometimes inspire stories, rather than the other way around? From Quentin Blake’s drawings of fantastical vehicles to Michael Rosen’s inside look at his poetry, from Anthony Browne’s shape game (no need to be an artist to play) to Lauren Child’s look at her creative process, this anthology — whose contributors were all British Children’s Laureates — aims to encourage budding writers and artists to let their imaginations soar. The final spread is a collection of prompts from all the contributors, passing the creative torch to the next generation. With contributions by: Malorie Blackman Quentin Blake Anthony Browne Lauren Child Julia Donaldson Anne Fine Michael Morpurgo Chris Riddell Michael Rosen Jacqueline Wilson

  2. Dear Hank Williams - It’s 1948 in Rippling Creek, Louisiana, and Tate P. Ellerbee’s new teacher has just given her class an assignment—learning the art of letter-writing. Luckily, Tate has the perfect pen pal in mind: Hank Williams, a country music singer whose star has just begun to rise. Tate and her great-aunt and -uncle listen to him on the radio every Saturday night, and Tate just knows that she and Hank are kindred spirits. Told entirely through Tate’s hopeful letters, this beautifully drawn novel from National Book Award–winning author Kimberly Willis Holt gradually unfolds a story of family love, overcoming tragedy, and an insightful girl learning to find her voice.

  3. Little Leonardo's Fascinating World of the Arts - “Little Leonardo’s Fascinating World of the Arts is a great way to encourage kids’ interests in all manner of artistic pursuits that they might aspire to. This volume introduces children to the many different types of creative fields in the arts including drawing and painting, music and dance, writing, design, architecture, and photography.”—Publisher’s description.

Want to see books about writing?

Books About Artists and America

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Polka Dot Parade
Written by Deborah Blumenthal & illustrated by Masha D'yans
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
"Beautifully rendered and told, the book brings to life the work of a gifted 20th-century artist whose creative vision will always be in vogue." Kirkus Reviews, Starred review This is a moving and impassioned picture book about the iconic fashion photographer Bill Cunningham that will inspire young readers to go discover their own ideas of beauty and embolden the world with their own creativity! He found "sheer poetry" in the drape of an evening dress, delight in the swoosh of a knife-pleated skirt, and sartorial splendor in Jazz Age garb. Every day, Bill Cunningham pedaled his bike through New York City searching for beauty. As he took picture after picture, Bill found beauty not in people, but in their clothes. Drawn to bold and creative choices, Bill's photos captured the attention of the New York Times. He traveled to Paris for Fashion Week, and admiration for his work grew. With his sense of creativity and daringness, his own personal style of photography came to be known as street art photography. His photos left a lasting impression on all those who came across his work and they continue to inspire creativity today. This is the story of the legend who created street fashion photography and left behind a legacy of glorious pictures. Bill Cunningham used his passion and talent to capture the beauty he saw in fashion and the ultimate freedom that it represents to each and every person. This is an inspiring picture book about finding your path and being creative.
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Hi, I’m Norman: The Story of American Illustrator Norman Rockwell
Written by Robert Burleigh & illustrated by Wendell Minor
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
“An inviting and admiring introduction to an important American artist.” —Kirkus Reviews From award-winning author Robert Burleigh comes a striking, intimate picture book biography about an American icon—beloved artist Norman Rockwell. Norman Rockwell is best known for capturing the American spirit as a painter and illustrator in the late twentieth century. This beautifully illustrated, first-person narrative explores Rockwell’s life in episodes based on important moments in American history. Norman Rockwell is not only a great American artist, but he also successfully chronicled two generations of American life, making him one of the most beloved and well-known American artists of all time.
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Samuel Morse, That's Who!
Written by Tracy Nelson Maurer & illustrated by El Primo Ramón
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Back in the 1800s, information traveled slowly. Who would dream of instant messages? Samuel Morse, that’s who! Who traveled to France, where the famous telegraph towers relayed 10,000 possible codes for messages depending on the signal arm positions—only if the weather was clear? Who imagined a system that would use electric pulses to instantly carry coded messages between two machines, rain or shine? Long before the first telephone, who changed communication forever? Samuel Morse, that’s who! This dynamic and subtsantive biography celebrates an early technology pioneer. Perfect for fans of Gene Barretta's popular inventor series.
Honorable Mentions
The Art of Eric Carle book
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Edward Hopper Paints His World book
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  1. The Art of Eric Carle - Carle is one of the most beloved illustrators of children’s books. This retrospective is more than just an appreciation of his art, however. The book also contains an insightful autobiography illustrated with personal photographs, an anecdotal essay by his longtime editor, a photographic essay on how Carle creates his collages, and writings by Carle and his colleagues. Still, it is the artwork in the oversize volume that seizes the imagination. More than 60 of his full-color collage pictures are handsomely reproduced and serve as a statement of Carle’s impressive talent.
    - Booklist

  2. Edward Hopper Paints His World - As a boy, Edward Hopper knew exactly what he wanted to be when he grew up: on the cover of his pencil box, he wrote the words EDWARD HOPPER, WOULD-BE ARTIST. He traveled to New York and to Paris to hone his craft. And even though no one wanted to buy his paintings for a long time, he never stopped believing in his dream to be an artist. He was fascinated with painting light and shadow and his works explore this challenge.

Books About Artists and Action And Adventure

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From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
Written by E.L. Konigsburg
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
2017 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the beloved classic From the Mixed-up files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. In this winner of the Newbery Medal from E.L. Konigsburg, when suburban Claudia Kincaid decides to run away, she knows she doesn't just want to run from somewhere, she wants to run to somewhere—to a place that is comfortable, beautiful, and, preferably, elegant.
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Marty Pants #3: How to Defeat a Wizard
Written by Mark Parisi
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
Marty Pants returns to face his archenemy Simon, the so-called school artist, in his third adventure! How is Simon turning their classmates, teachers, and even the mayor against Marty—could it be magic? Is Simon literally a charmer who is charming people with magic charms? With Simon using magical powers to turn everyone against him, it will be up to Marty to stop this madness before Simon controls the whole world and maybe even the space-time continuum! The third book in the Marty Pants series from the award-winning cartoonist behind the “Off the Mark” strip, Mark Parisi, is perfect for fans of Wimpy Kid, Big Nate, and laughing a lot.
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Warrior Genius
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
In Book 2 of this breathtakingly action-packed series, warriors clash in an ultimate face-off between enemy empires, but both sides share an equal enemy--Giacomo. Giacomo, his fellow artists, and their wise old teacher are on the run after a showdown with Nerezza, the emperor of Zizzola, who has vowed to hunt them down and destroy them and their precious Geniuses. In a desperate attempt to escape, they transport themselves to Rachana, a South Asian-inspired world where it's the most powerful warriors, not artists, who possess Geniuses. The power-hungry Rachanan leader is more than happy to have Giacomo and his team--he's eager to find the next Sacred Tool, the Straightedge, and believes it's hidden somewhere in his empire. Meanwhile, Nerezza has devised a plan to control Giacomo and bend him to her will. But first she'll have to start an all-out war to get to him.
Honorable Mentions
The Road to Ever After book
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Rebel Genius book
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Arty book
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  1. The Road to Ever After - A young boy escorts an elderly woman back to her childhood home where she plans to die in this funny and heartbreaking middle-grade novel. Davy David, an orphan, lives by his wits in the dead-end town of Brownvale. When a stray dog named George turns Davy’s life upside down just days before Christmas, Davy sets in motion a chain of events that forces them to flee. A mischievous wind blows the two of them to a boarded-up museum on the outskirts of town where they meet the elderly recluse, Miss Flint. She has planned one last adventure before her time is up and hires the reluctant Davy and George to escort her. As they travel, the most peculiar thing begins to happen—Miss Flint gets younger and younger with every mile, and her story unfolds along with it. The Road to Ever After by Moira Young is magical and moving adventure about an unlikely friendship and an unforgettable journey. Praise for The Road to Ever After: “Gorgeous writing combines with a hauntingly bleak near-future setting, a whiff of holiday magic, and a transcendent story arc to make this novel feel like the classic it deserves to become.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review “This fairy tale-like novel has good potential as a read- aloud and is just quirky enough to not be sentimental.” —School Library Journal

  2. Rebel Genius - A new fantasy-adventure series from the co-creator of the hit animated shows Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra! In twelve-year-old Giacomo’s Renaissance-inspired world, art is powerful, dangerous, and outlawed. A few artists possess Geniuses, birdlike creatures that are the living embodiment of an artist’s creative spirit. Those caught with one face a punishment akin to death, so when Giacomo discovers he has a Genius, he knows he’s in serious trouble. Luckily, he finds safety in a secret studio where young artists and their Geniuses train in sacred geometry to channel their creative energies as weapons. But when a murderous artist goes after the three Sacred Tools—objects that would allow him to destroy the world and everyone in his path—Giacomo and his friends must risk their lives to stop him. “DiMartino masterfully weaves a thrilling action-adventure epic into an imaginative and terrifying world.” —Bryan Konietzko, co-creator of Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra “Rebel Genius is a natural extension of Michael Dante DiMartino’s work on Avatar: The Last Airbender: charming young heroes, magical creatures, an innovative magic system, and mysteries galore. There is so much to love about this book!” —Gene Yang, National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and author of American Born Chinese “DiMartino delivers a magical take on the power of art. With a cast that will charm you and an innovative new world to get lost in, Rebel Genius is a gift for fantasy lovers and a treasure for anyone who has ever tried to pick up a brush or a pen and make something new. A lively, thrilling spin on the struggle to create.”—Leigh Bardugo, author of the Grisha trilogy and the Six of Crows series “Rebel Genius contains all of Mike DiMartino’s hallmarks: an exquisite world dripping with magic and color, a cast of incredible, diverse characters, and artwork that will take your breath away. Get ready to fall in love.” —Marie Lu, author of the Legend trilogy and the Young Elites trilogy

  3. Arty - Join Arty the frog and find out how he became the world’s greatest artist! As Arty creates a series of record-setting masterpieces, he ends up in some strange and funny situations, from balancing on a stepladder at the top of Mount Everest to being strapped to the wing of a supersonic plane. Kids will laugh at Arty’s antics . . . and feel inspired, too.

Books About Artists and African Americans

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Take a Picture of Me, James Van Der Zee!
Written by Andrea J Loney & illustrated by Keith Mallett
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-10
James Van Der Zee was just a young boy when he saved enough money to buy his first camera. He took photos of his family, classmates, and anyone who would sit still for a portrait. By the fifth grade, James was the school photographer and unofficial town photographer. Eventually he outgrew his small town and moved to the exciting, fast-paced world of New York City. After being told by his boss that no one would want his or her photo taken -by a black man, - James opened his own portrait studio in Harlem. He took photographs of legendary figures of the Harlem Renaissance--politicians such as Marcus Garvey, performers including Florence Mills, Bill -Bojangles- Robinson, and Mamie Smith--and ordinary folks in the neighborhood too. Everyone wanted fancy portraits by James Van Der Zee. Winner of Lee & Low's New Voices Award, Take a Picture of Me, James Van Der Zee! tells the story of a groundbreaking artist who chronicled an important era in Harlem and showed the beauty and pride of its people.
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Infinite Hope: A Black Artist's Journey from World War II to Peace
Written & illustrated by Ashley Bryan
picture book
Recommend Ages: 10-13
In May of 1942, at the age of eighteen, Ashley Bryan was drafted to fight in World War II. For the next three years, he would face the horrors of war as a black soldier in a segregated army. He endured the terrible lies white officers told about the black soldiers to isolate them from anyone who showed kindness—including each other. He received worse treatment than even Nazi POWs. He was assigned the grimmest, most horrific tasks, like burying fallen soldiers…but was told to remove the black soldiers first because the media didn’t want them in their newsreels. And he waited and wanted so desperately to go home, watching every white soldier get safe passage back to the United States before black soldiers were even a thought. For the next forty years, Ashley would keep his time in the war a secret. But now, he tells his story. The story of the kind people who supported him. The story of the bright moments that guided him through the dark. And the story of his passion for art that would save him time and time again. Filled with never-before-seen artwork and handwritten letters and diary entries, this illuminating and moving memoir by Newbery Honor–winning illustrator Ashley Bryan is both a lesson in history and a testament to hope.
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Radiant Child
Written & illustrated by Javaka Steptoe
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
A visually stunning picture book biography about modern art phenomenon Jean-Michel Basquiat, written and illustrated by Coretta Scott King Award winner Javaka Steptoe. Jean-Michael Basquiat and his unique, collage-style paintings rocked to fame in the 1980s as a cultural phenomenon unlike anything the art work had ever seen. But before that, he was a little boy who saw art everywhere: in poetry books and museums, in games and in the words that we speak, and in the pulsing energy of New York City. Now, award-winning illustrator Javaka Steptoe's vivid text and bold artwork echoing Basquiat's own introduce young readers to the powerful message and art doesn't always have to be neat or clean--and definitely not inside the lines--to be beautiful.
Honorable Mentions
Li'l Sis & Uncle Willie book
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JIMI: Sounds Like a Rainbow - A Story of the Young Jimi Hendrix book
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I, Juan de Pareja: The Story of a Great Painter and the Slave He Helped Become a Great Artist book
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  1. Li'l Sis & Uncle Willie - Surveys the life of African-American artist William H. Johnson as his young niece might have told it. The artist’s paintings provide the illustrations.

  2. JIMI: Sounds Like a Rainbow - A Story of the Young Jimi Hendrix - Jimi Hendrix was many things - a superstar, a rebel, a hero, an innovator. But first, he was a boy named Jimmy who loved to draw and paint and listen to records. A boy who played air guitar with a broomstick and longed for a real guitar of his own. A boy who asked himself a question: Could someone paint pictures with sound? This a story of a talented child who learns to see, hear, and interpret the world around him in his own unique way. It is also a story of a determined kid with a vision, who worked hard to become a devoted and masterful artist. Jimi Hendrix - a groundbreaking performer whose music shook the very foundations of rock ‘n’ roll.

  3. I, Juan de Pareja: The Story of a Great Painter and the Slave He Helped Become a Great Artist - When the great Velázquez was painting his masterpieces at the Spanish court in the seventeenth century, his colors were expertly mixed and his canvases carefully prepared by his slave, Juan de Pareja. In a vibrant novel which depicts both the beauty and the cruelty of the time and place, Elizabeth Borton de Treviño tells the story of Juan, who was born a slave and died an accomplished and respected artist. Upon the death of his indulgent mistress in Seville, Juan de Pareja was uprooted from the only home he had known and placed in the charge of a vicious gypsy muleteer to be sent north to his mistress’s nephew and heir, Diego Velázquez, who recognized at once the intelligence and gentle breeding which were to make Juan his indispensable assistant and companion―and his lifelong friend. Through Juan’s eyes the reader sees Velázquez’s delightful family, his working habits and the character of the man, his relations with the shy yet devoted King Philip IV and with his fellow painters, Rubens and Murillo, the climate and customs of Spanish court life. When Velázquez discovers that he and Juan share a love for the art which is his very life, the painter proves his friendship in the most incredible fashion, for in those days it was forbidden by law for slaves to learn or practice the arts. Through the hardships of voyages to Italy, through the illnesses of Velázquez, Juan de Pareja loyally serves until the death of the painter in 1660. I, Juan de Pareja is the winner of the 1966 Newbery Medal. Latino Interest.

Books About Artists and Painting

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Sky Color
Written & illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8
The sky’s no limit as the author-illustrator of The Dot and Ish winds up his Creatrilogy with a whimsical tale about seeing the world a new way. Marisol loves to paint. So when her teacher asks her to help make a mural for the school library, she can’t wait to begin! But how can Marisol make a sky without blue paint? After gazing out the bus window and watching from her porch as day turns into night, she closes her eyes and starts to dream. . . . From the award-winning Peter H. Reynolds comes a gentle, playful reminder that if we keep our hearts open and look beyond the expected, creative inspiration will come.
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Drawing on Walls: A Story of Keith Haring
Written by Matthew Burgess & illustrated by Josh Cochran
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-14
_I would love to be a teacher because I love children and I think that not enough people respect children or understand how important they are. I have done many projects with children of all ages. --Keith Haring_ From Matthew Burgess, the much-acclaimed author of _Enormous Smallness_, comes _Drawing on Walls: A Story of Keith Haring_. Often seen drawing in white chalk on the matte black paper of unused advertising space in the subway, Haring's iconic pop art and graffiti-like style transformed the New York City underground in the 1980s. A member of the LGBTQ community, Haring died tragically at the age of thirty-one from AIDS-related complications. Illustrated in paint by Josh Cochran, himself a specialist in bright, dense, conceptual drawings, this honest, celebratory book honors Haring's life and art, along with his very special connection with kids.
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Portrait of an Artist: Claude Monet: Discover the Artist Behind the Masterpieces
Written by Lucy Brownridge & illustrated by Caroline Bonne-Müller
picture book
Recommend Ages: 7-10
**A beautifully told art story for children, looking at Claude Monet's life through his masterpieces. Accompanied by stunning original illustrations from Caroline Bonne-Muller. ** â??â??â??â??â?? - The Portrait of an Artist series is an excellent introduction to art and its importance to our world. Claude Monet is one of the best loved artists of all time. Find out how this special young painter strove to capture light and feeling in his paintings and how together with a group of talented friends, he came to start the most famous art movement of all time, Impressionism. In his long life he experienced war and heartbreak, love and the joy of family. See how his life shaped each piece of art he made and that throughout it all he never stopped trying to paint the ever changing light and glimmering water. In the end he built himself a garden filled with both, with waterlilies floating on dappled ponds setting the scene for his last, infamous masterpieces.  A Monet masterpiece is featured on every spread. **This art story also includes a closer look at 10 of Monet's masterpieces at the back.**
Honorable Mentions
An Artist book
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Isabella book
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  1. An Artist - Briefly explains how the artist tries to recreate God’s world using his paints.

  2. Isabella - The purple-haired star of the New York Times bestselling picture book series is back, and her imagination is turning her life into a wondrous work of art! When Isabella has a day off from school, her mother suggests doing something special. Instead, Isabella walks her parents through all of the exciting things they could do as she imagines herself in famous paintings ranging from Degas’ Dancers in Blue to Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans. Through her musings, Isabella creates a wondrous museum of her own making, showing how home can be the most special place of all!

Books About Artists and Latinos

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Little Frida: A Story of Frida Kahlo
Written & illustrated by Anthony Browne
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-6
Young Frida Kahlo’s imaginary friend comes to life in a touching story by Anthony Browne enhanced by exquisite surreal illustrations. Following a bout with polio at the age of six, Frida Kahlo’s life was marked by pain and loneliness. In real life she walked with a limp, but in her dreams she flew. One day her imagination took her on a journey to a girl in white who could dance without pain and hold her secrets, an indelible figure who would find her way into Frida’s art in years to come. Inspired by Frida Kahlo’s diary, Anthony Browne captures the essence of the artist’s early flights of fancy and depicts both Frida and her imaginary friend in vivid illustrations evoking Kahlo’s iconic style. A note at the end offers a brief biography of the artist who has intrigued art lovers the world over.
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Viva Frida
Written by Yuyi Morales & illustrated by Tim O'Meara
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Bilingual text, accompanied by colorful photographs, explores the famous artist's life, and illuminates the laughter, love, and tragedy that influenced her work.
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Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos
Written by Monica Brown & illustrated by John Parra
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos, written by Monica Brown and illustrated by John Parra, is based on the life of one of the world's most influential painters, Frida Kahlo, and the animals that inspired her art and life. The fascinating Mexican artist Frida Kahlo is remembered for her self-portraits, her dramatic works featuring bold and vibrant colors. Her work brought attention to Mexican and indigenous culture and she is also renowned for her works celebrating the female form. Brown's story recounts Frida's beloved pets—two monkeys, a parrot, three dogs, two turkeys, an eagle, a black cat, and a fawn—and playfully considers how Frida embodied many wonderful characteristics of each animal.
Honorable Mentions
The Life of/ La Vida De Selena book
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My Life in Pictures book
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  1. The Life of/ La Vida De Selena - A Lil’ Libros Bilingual Biography Selena’s career started at a young age when she became lead singer in her family’s band, Selena Y Los Dinos. She went on to become an award-winning artist with albums like Amor Prohibido and Selena Live, and earned the title “Queen of Tejano Music.” Your little one will learn that Selena’s favorite food was pizza and that the most important people in the world to her were her familiaand fans.

  2. My Life in Pictures - Bea Garcia is an artist. She draws anywhere and everywhere—but mostly in her own notebook. When Bea’s first and only best friend Yvonne moves to Australia, not even drawing makes Bea feel better. And things only get worse when a loud, rambunctious boy moves in next door. He’s nothing at all like Yvonne! But with a little imagination and a whole lot of doodles, Bea Garcia might just make a new friend.

Want to see books about Latinos?

Books About Artists and Girls And Women

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Dancing Through Fields of Color
Written by Elizabeth Brown & illustrated by Aimee Sicuro
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
They said only men could paint powerful pictures, but Helen Frankenthaler (1928-2011) splashed her way through the modern art world. Channeling deep emotion, Helen poured paint onto her canvas and danced with the colors to make art unlike anything anyone had ever seen. She used unique tools like mops and squeegees to push the paint around, to dazzling effects. Frankenthaler became an originator of the influential "Color Field" style of abstract expressionist painting with her "soak stain" technique, and her artwork continues to electrify new generations of artists today. Dancing Through Fields of Color discusses Frankenthaler's early life, how she used colors to express emotion, and how she overcame the male-dominated art world of the 1950s.
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Out of This World
Written by Michelle Markel & illustrated by Amanda Hall
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
A gorgeously illustrated picture book biography about the fascinating life of surrealist artist Leonora Carrington, from Michelle Markel and Amanda Hall, the acclaimed team behind The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau. Ever since she was a little girl, Leonora Carrington loved to draw on walls, in books, on paper—and she loved the fantastic tales her grandmother told that took her to worlds that shimmered beyond this one, where legends became real. Leonora’s parents wanted her to become a proper English lady, but there was only one thing she wanted, even if it was unsuitable: to be an artist. In London, she discovered a group of artists called surrealists, who were stunning the world with their mysterious creations. This was the kind of art she had to make. This was the kind of person she had to be. From life in Paris creating art alongside Max Ernst, to Mexico where she met Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, Leonora’s life became intertwined with powerful events and people that shaped the twentieth century. Out of This World is the powerful, stunningly told story of Leonora Carrington, a girl who made art out of her imagination and created some of the most enigmatic and startling works of the last eighty years.
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Imogen
Written by Amy Novesky & illustrated by Lisa Congdon
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Introduces the life and achievements of twentieth-century photographer Imogen Cunningham, describing her first darkroom experiments during childhood and the challenges she faced as a mother of three boys.
Honorable Mentions
A Life Made by Hand book
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Gathering Blue book
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  1. A Life Made by Hand - Ruth Asawa (1926-2013) was an influential and award-winning sculptor, a beloved figure in the Bay Area art world, and a devoted activist who advocated tirelessly for arts education. This lushly illustrated book by collage artist Andrea D’Aquino brings Asawa’s creative journey to life, detailing the influence of her childhood in a farming family, and her education at Black Mountain College where she pursued an experimental course of education with leading avant-garde artists and thinkers such as Anni and Josef Albers, Buckminster Fuller, Merce Cunningham, and Robert Rauschenberg. Delightful and substantial, this engaging title for young art lovers includes a page of teaching tools for parents and educators.

  2. Gathering Blue - Lois Lowry once again creates a mysterious but plausible future world. It is a society ruled by savagery and deceit that shuns and discards the weak. Left orphaned and physically flawed, young Kira faces a frightening, uncertain future. Blessed with an almost magical talent that keeps her alive, she struggles with ever broadening responsibilities in her quest for truth, discovering things that will change her life forever. As she did in THE GIVER, Lowry challenges readers to imagine what our world could become, how people could evolve, and what could be considered valuable. Every reader will be taken by Kira’s plight and will long ponder her haunting world and the hope for the future.

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