Children young and old will delight in the artistic splendor of this illustrated nonfiction tale from the author of Henri’s Scissors, which Booklist called an “exemplary picture-book biography.”
Joseph Cornell loved to draw and paint and collect things. With these drawings and paintings and collected treasures, he made marvelous shadowboxes—wonderlands covered in glass. And who did he most like to share them with? Children, of course. For they noticed all the details and took in all the magic Mr. Cornell had created.
In this inspiring nonfiction picture book, Jeanette Winter has painted a moving portrait of a New York artist who always felt his work was best understood by children.
Winter follows her picture-book biographies of artists including Matisse, O'Keeffe, and Rivera with a look at reclusive artist Joseph Cornell, who made glass-fronted wooden boxes filled with delicate, surreal collections of objects star charts, cutouts of parrots and ballerinas, marbles in wineglasses all crafted in the cellar of his home on the marvelously named Utopia Parkway. "He saw only dreams and memories, and he filled his boxes with them." Winter connects specific memories from Cornell's life with the creations they grew into, showing each memory in a cloud of periwinkle blue on left-hand pages ("Mr. Cornell remembered blowing soap bubbles") opposite the box it inspired (a pipe emitting what look like white seashells). While Winter's lyrical prose is true to the gentle strangeness of Cornell's work, the digital artwork, done in the style of flat tempera painting, doesn't convey the fine detail of the boxes, and no photographs of them are included. An afterword supplies more information (Cornell arranged his last exhibition for children, hanging the boxes low for them to see), but the few photos there focus on the viewers, not the work. Ages 4 8.