MY PEN by Christopher Myers shows how his pen takes him on journeys. Christopher illustrates books and uses his imagination.
Sample: “My pen rides dinosaurs and hides an elephant in a teacup.”
Christopher wants you to use your pen and see what worlds will come out.
Activity: Using crayons picture an imaginary world. It could be anywhere. On another planet. A country you just made up. Draw what people or animals might look like. Does it have lakes or oceans?
It’s Nonfiction Monday!
Copyright © 2014 Deborah Amadei All Rights Reserved.
At the age of 15 George Mendoza suddenly began to go blind. In only a few months he had lost most of his sight, retaining only his peripheral vision. Despite what must have been a devastating loss, Mendoza found ways to overcome his disability. He first found an outlet in running: setting the world record for a mile run by a blind runner and twice going to the Olympics for the Disabled. Later, at the prompting of a priest friend who told him to paint what he saw, he began to turn his visions of colors and shapes into works of art.
Those works of art are the clear stars of this book. Each page layout has a full page full-color image of one of Mendoza’s bright joyful paintings. Many kids will enjoy looking at the book solely for the paintings alone. The story itself is told in spare prose on the other page of each layout accompanied by a simple pen and ink illustration. The illustrations often have a bit of color from the painting on the paired page which works well to tie everything together. The text by author J. L. Powers gives a summary version of Mendoza’s story, focusing on his determination to share his unique “vision” of the world.
The only thing I wished with this book was for slightly more information. There is an author’s note at the end which fleshes out some of the details of the story that are skimmed over in the text. However, I think even young kids will feel that there are places in the story that they are left wanting more. The most striking for me was when Powers quickly glosses over Mendoza’s trips to the Olympics and left me wondering how exactly he was able to accomplish such a feat. And maybe it’s just my medical background, but I really wanted to know even a little more about Mendoza’s blindness and his visions.
The title of the book comes from a blind girl who asked the teenage Mendoza what colors the wind is. Later when he began to paint he remembered that question and tried to show what colors he saw in the wind and the world around him. As I’ve mentioned here before, I like to do art projects associated with books about artists. This book seems like it would be a perfect jumping off point for some really cool art with the kids.
I received a review copy of this book from the publisher. I have not been compensated for my review and the opinions are my own.
Originally posted at Supratentorial.
Powers, J.L. 2014. Colors of the Wind: The Story of Blind Artist and Champion Runner George Mendoza. Cynthiana, KY: Purple House Press.
As a child, George Mendoza began seeing brilliantly-colored lights, shapes and squiggles, eventually losing most of his sight except his peripheral vision and the ever-present colors. Unable to play basketball or other do other things he wanted, George took up running. He excelled in the sport and competed twice in the Olympics for the Disabled. In the back of his mind, however, he’d kept a long-ago word advice from his youth.
One day, a flyer arrived in the mail,
advertising a contest for blind artists.
George remembered the priest, who told him,
“You should paint what you see.”
George started to paint,
just like the priest told him to do.
And so began the painting career of George Mendoza.
The text appears in a plain, small font on white pages, accompanied by simple blank ink drawings, often highlighted with colors from Mendoza’s paintings. Each facing page contains a full-bleed image of one of Mendoza’s paintings.
Biographical information, photos of Mr. Mendoza, and painting titles are included in the book’s back matter.
The joyful, riotous colors of Mendoza’s paintings will certainly appeal to children, as will his story of perseverance and purpose. Enjoy!
You can see photos from Mendoza’s “Colors of the Wind” exhibit at the Ellen Noel Art Museum here. The exhibit is listed with the Smithsonian Affiliate Exhibition Exchange.
My copy of the book was provided by the author.
You can see all of my reviews at Shelf-employed.
Today at Supratentorial I’m sharing two relatively new books on Henri Matisse offer complementary accounts of his life and work and make for a great elementary artist study. Colorful Dreamerby Marjorie Blain Parker looks at Matisse’s entire life, with about half the book in the period before he really became an artist. Henri’s Scissors by Jeanette Winter focuses briefly covers Matisse’s early years but instead focuses on the time after he is confined to bed as an old man and how he managed to find a way to continue creating art when he couldn’t paint by using his giant paper cutouts.
For the full review and some Matisse inspired artwork, visit Supratentorial.