Tommy knows he wants to be an artist when he grows up. He can't wait to get to school and have real art lessons. When Tommy gets to school and finds out that the art lessons are full of "rules", he is surprised and dismayed. How the wise art teacher finds a way to give Tommy the freedom to create and stay within the "rules" makes a wonderfully perceptive picture book about growing up and keeping one's individuality.
Tomie dePaola is the author and illustrator of many beloved books for children, including the Caldecott Honor Book Strega Nona. Fans of all ages will be pleased to hear that The Art Lesson is, in fact, based on the artist's own experiences growing up, and offers a welcome glimpse into his past. This bright picture book is as covered with drawings as the walls of Tommy's parents' and grandparents' houses, and sends an inspirational message to budding artists and individualists. Break out the crayons!
A boy named Tommy loves to draw with his Binney & Smith Crayola crayons, and these pictures hang on his side of the room, in his mother's kitchen, at the barber shop where his father works, in the store of his Irish grandparents and in the home of his Italian grandmother Nana. Tommy? Nana? This work of picture-book fiction is really a gem of an autobiography, and readers familiar with dePaola's work will find wonderful, well-placed clues to his lifetime of artistry among these pages. Tommy starts school, and can't wait for the day when the art teacher comes. But there are a couple of hitches: the paints at school are cracked and powdery (and blow ``right off the paper''), and the art teacher only lets the children have one piece of paper, on which to ``copy'' her drawings. Tommy, who has been told by his aunts (twins, who are artists) that real artists never copy, has a crisis. But his teachers (including Tommy's regular classroom teacher) show themselves to be far more understanding than readers could have predicted, and all ends well. Inventive and revealing, dePaola provides a lyrical blend of text and art. This is an inspired and childlike offering, perhaps one of dePaola's best. Ages 5-8.