Cover – Courtesy of Henry Holt Publishing
• Targeted Audience: Lower and Upper Elementary School (Ages 5-10)
• Genre: Nonfiction
• Author: Robert Burleigh
• Illustrator: Wendell Minor
• Publisher: Henry Holt
• Publication Date: August 19, 2014
• Binding: Hard Cover
• Dimensions: 10″ x 10″
• Printing: Full Color
• Length: 40 Pages
• Retail: $16.99
• ISBN: 978-0805087529
“America was changing, and Edward was eager to make art in a fresh, new American way. There was one big problem. No one wanted to buy his paintings. Still, he didn’t give up.”
Note: All images on this post are © copyrighted material and are not to be used without permission from the publisher, Henry Holt.
I’ve always admired the work of Edward Hopper, and then while visiting Boston in 2007, I happened upon an extraordinary Hopper Exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts. I was so enamored with his work, and how he used shadow and light, that I couldn’t tear myself away from the exhibit until I was literally asked to leave at closing time. I left that day with a beautiful box of Hopper note cards, which I use sparingly, and only people I truly respect and admire have ever received a note from me on one of those treasured cards.
The Story of One of America’s Greatest Artists for the Youngest Readers
Lately I find myself saying, more and more, how wonderful it is that there are new biographies popping up in picture book form. Traditionally, biographies have been available only for older children and adults, but that’s all changing. Edward Hopper Paints His World is a gloriously sophisticated picture book that takes illustration to a level of soaring heights. Veteran author Robert Burleigh knows how to write for a very young audience, and does so in such a way that children can understand what he’s saying and at the same time be challenged intellectually. (Very young children will want to read and discuss the book and vocabulary words with their parents.) Pairing the clever text with the paintings by Wendell Minor results in the most beautiful picture book I’ve ever seen – and I’ve seen many.
A Man of Courage, Resilience and Determination
Edward Hopper wrote, “Edward Hopper Would Be Artist” on his colored pencil box when he was a small boy. He was a quiet and gentle child who enjoyed spending time outdoors painting the natural beauty around him. As an adult, he set out for New York City to study art. He worked tirelessly at his craft to become the painter he longed to be. He even traveled to Paris to visit art museums and broaden his artistic horizons. Back in New York he worked as an illustrator for magazines to pay his bills, but he just wanted to paint. The problem is that no one wanted to buy his paintings. Edward Hopper Paints His World is the story of how this quiet determined artist persevered and dedicated his life to painting what he saw and what was not commonly painted by other artists.
Illustrations Worthy of Hopper’s Original Art
If you’ve had the chance to read my interview with Wendell Minor, then you know the caliber of his artistic abilities and his admirable integrity. Wendell has taken the artistic genius of Edward Hopper and put his own mark on it through the many paintings he completed to illustrate this book. His use of color is astounding. Wendell explains in the back of the book how Edward Hopper influenced him as a painter from the start of his own career in his use of light, color and composition. In addition to many magnificent full-color paintings in the book, there are also gray scale sketches, giving the reader a varied view of the world of Hopper as a celebrated artist. Also in the back of the book are images of four of Hopper’s original paintings, so children can compare and contrast them to Wendell’s illustrations. There simply aren’t enough adjectives to describe the magnificence of Wendell’s work here.
What This Book Teaches
Edward Hopper Paints His World teaches children about the long road Edward Hopper took to success, and how he achieved that on his own terms, painting exactly what he saw in the exact way he wanted to paint his subjects. Children will learn that passion, patience, determination and persistence are commendable and necessary qualities for achieving great things and that people who are talented often don’t always get noticed right away. They will discover the importance of Hopper’s extraordinary work and perhaps embrace their own uniqueness. Robert Burleigh explains more about Edward Hopper’s life in the back of the book and also includes some notable Hopper quotes. I love books like this that engage readers so much that they can’t wait to do more research on their own.
Why You Should Buy This Book
Edward Hopper Paints His World is an incredibly inspiring true life story. All children can appreciate beauty, and Hopper’s work and the way this author and illustrator depict it, is quite simply beautiful. You never know what will ignite a child’s interest, and if you ask any artist – including Wendell Minor – he or she will tell you the passion was there at a very young age. Edward Hopper is undoubtedly one of the most outstanding biographies for young readers. It is to be read, studied, admired and kept safe in your home or school library. I will not be parting with my copy and I am certain, once you and your child read this book, you too will want to treasure it for a lifetime.
Buy Edward Hopper Paints His World here.
About the Author
Robert Burleigh earned his undergraduate degree from DePauw University and his Master’s in Humanities from the University of Chicago. He has written more than 40 picture books on many different subjects, including several illustrated by Wendell Minor – Abraham Lincoln Comes Home, If You Spent a Day with Thoreau at Walden Pond and most recently, Trapped! A Whale’s Rescue. In addition to writing, Robert paints under the name of Burleigh Kronquist. He splits his time between Grand Haven, Michigan, and Chicago, Illinois.
About the Illustrator
Wendell Minor is the illustrator of over fifty children’s books including The Last Train, Daylight Starlight Wildlife, Sequoia, How Big Could Your Pumpkin Grow and most recently, Trapped! A Whale’s Rescue. He works in oil, acrylic, gouache and watercolors in his beautiful studio in rural Connecticut. His interest in nature and the environment has taken him and his wife, Florence from the east coast to the west coast and everywhere in between. Wendell’s outstanding artwork has been exhibited in universities and museums and has been acquired by private collectors. An exhibition of 25 years of his children’s book art, entitled, “Wendell Minor’s America,” was on display at the Norman Rockwell Museum from November 2013 through May, 2014.