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Radiant Child
Cover of Radiant Child
Radiant Child
The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat
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Winner of the Randolph Caldecott Medal and the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award
Jean-Michel Basquiat and his unique, collage-style paintings rocketed to fame in the 1980s as a cultural phenomenon unlike anything the art world 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 that art doesn't always have to be neat or clean—and definitely not inside the lines—to be beautiful.

Winner of the Randolph Caldecott Medal and the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award
Jean-Michel Basquiat and his unique, collage-style paintings rocketed to fame in the 1980s as a cultural phenomenon unlike anything the art world 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 that art doesn't always have to be neat or clean—and definitely not inside the lines—to be beautiful.

Available formats-
  • OverDrive Read
Languages:-
Copies-
  • Available:
    1
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
    4.7
  • Lexile:
  • Interest Level:
    LG
  • Text Difficulty:
    3

Recommended for you

 
Awards-
About the Author-
  • Javaka Steptoe is a Caldecott and Coretta Scott King Illustrator award-winning artist, designer, and illustrator. His debut picture book, In Daddy's Arms I Am Tall, won the Coretta Scott King Award, and Jimi: Sounds Like a Rainbow (written by Gary Golio) received a Coretta Scott King Honor. He has also illustrated Do You Know What I'll Do? by Charlotte Zolotow, A Pocketful of Poems by Nikki Grimes, Amiri and Odette: A Love Story by Walter Dean Myers, Rain Play by Cynthia Cotten, and Hot Day on Abbott Avenue by Karen English, which received the Jane Addams Children's Book Award. He is also the author and illustrator of The Jones Family Express, as well as the Caldecott award-winning Radiant Child. Javaka invites you to visit his website at Javaka.com.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from August 8, 2016
    In this visually arresting and vibrantly narrated biography, Steptoe (In Daddy’s Arms I Am Tall) charts the childhood of incandescent, ill-fated artist Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960–1988). Although the book includes no work by Basquiat himself, Steptoe emulates 1980s street art by layering paint, paper scraps, paint tubes, and photos on found-wood panels. The artist, Steptoe writes, learned to see art in the “messy patchwork of the city,” the “street games of little children,” and the “terrible blues” of growing up. Basquiat’s early influences include his Puerto Rican mother, Matilde, who encourages him with museum visits and with the textbook Gray’s Anatomy. Poetry and his Haitian father’s jazz records fuel his imagination, too: “His drawings are not neat or clean, nor does he color inside the lines.” Basquiat’s radiance was suffused with trauma, and Steptoe alludes to Matilde’s mental illness and Basquiat’s teenage strife (“His mother’s mind is not well, and the family breaks”). Passing references to Warhol, Haring, graffiti, and Basquiat’s heroin overdose appear in the afterword: “Basquiat lived an exhilarating life, but... he struggled with a drug addiction until his death.” Overall, Steptoe focuses on Basquiat’s meteoric rise, and readers see the artist smiling as he walks on the gritty Lower East Side. Collaged photographs picture a crowded gallery, and Steptoe concludes in the present tense: “He is now a famous artist!” Steptoe downplays tragic elements, instead celebrating Basquiat’s irreverence and brilliance. Ages 4–8.

  • Kirkus

    Steptoe chronicles the formative years and evolving style of Jean-Michel Basquiat, a Brooklyn-born graffiti artist with a rising career in the 1980s fine arts world; coverage ceases before his untimely drug-related death at age 27.Steptoe's canvas is wood salvaged from the Brooklyn Museum and locales that Basquiat frequented. Spaces between the patched fragments contribute to the impression of a disjointed childhood. Steptoe shows that Basquiat was smart and driven early on, influenced by his Haitian father's jazz records and his Puerto Rican mother's style, encouragement, breakdown, and institutionalization when he was only 7. Prior to that, she drew with him, took him to see Picasso's Guernica, and gave him Grey's Anatomy following a serious car accident. Images of body parts imprint his increasingly complex political paintings, along with other recurring motifs explained in outstanding backmatter. Several sentences per spread speak with understated lyricism and poignancy, an occasional internal rhyme underscoring a point: "Jean-Michel is confused and filled with a terrible blues / when Matilde can no longer live at home." Acknowledging his multifaceted sense of connection, Steptoe interprets Basquiat's style instead of inserting particular works. Vibrant colors and personal symbols channel the "sloppy, ugly, and sometimes weird, but somehow still BEAUTIFUL" paintings, incorporating meticulously attributed collage elements and capturing the artist's energy and mystery. Stellar bookmaking--a riveting portrait of a young artist. (author's note, bibliography, biography) (Picture book/biography. 6-12) COPYRIGHT(1) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from August 1, 2016

    Gr 1-5-One extraordinary artist illuminates another in this textured, heartfelt picture book biography of the 1980s cultural phenom. Employing signature features of Jean-Michel Basquiat's work-vibrant colors, found objects, repeated motifs-Steptoe allows his own emotionally rich style to shine through the artistic and biographical references dotting the illustrations. Pieces of discarded wood from Basquiat's stomping grounds fit together to form the painted surfaces for Steptoe's scenes of the Afro Puerto Rican artist, each unfolding within a colored frame. Occasional collage elements of newsprint, photographs, and art materials add dimension and immediacy, highlighting both artists' immersion in their work and surroundings. Adhering to a straightforward chronology, Steptoe addresses events in Basquiat's life primarily as they affected his artistic growth from young boyhood in Brooklyn through the triumphant years as a critical and popular success in Manhattan. With minimal detail, the author sensitively touches upon his subject's childhood car crash and his mother's mental illness, though the story avoids his drug use and stops before his early death. Crucial back matter provides context for readers in every respect. Additional biographical information fleshes out the lyrical text of the main narrative, and an introduction to symbolism in Basquiat's work helps readers appreciate the layers at play in Steptoe's illustrations. An author's note articulates feelings that radiate from every page of the book: Steptoe's admiration for and attachment to Basquiat and his personal investment in depicting a complicated, loving relationship between a child and a mentally ill parent. VERDICT Pairing simple text with expressive, encompassing illustrations, this excellent title offers a new generation a fittingly powerful introduction to an artistic luminary.-Robbin E. Friedman, Chappaqua Library, NY

    Copyright 2016 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Praise for Radiant Child:


    Winner of the 2017 Randolph Caldecott Medal

    An IndieBound Bestseller

    Winner of the 2017 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award

    Essence Magazine Top Ten Books of the... Praise for Radiant Child:


    Winner of the 2017 Randolph Caldecott Medal

    An IndieBound Bestseller

    Winner of the 2017 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award

    Essence Magazine Top Ten Books of the Year

    NAACP Image Awards Nomination for Outstanding Literary Work in Children

    Bank Street College of Education 2017 Best Children's Book of the Year

    NPR Best Books of 2016

    Washington Post Best Books of 2016

    Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2016

    School Library Journal Best Books of 2016

    Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2016

    Horn Book Fanfare Best Books of 2016

    New York Public Library 2016 Best Books for Kids

    Chicago Public Library 2016 Best Books for Kids

    ALA Notable Book for Children

    A CCBC Best of Year Choice

    A Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People 2017 Selection

    Amazon Best Book of November 2016

  • Kirkus Reviews (starred review) Vibrant colors and personal symbols channel the 'sloppy, ugly, and sometimes weird, but somehow still BEAUTIFUL' paintings, incorporating meticulously attributed collage elements and capturing the artist's energy and mystery. Stellar bookmarking—a riveting portrait of a young artist.
  • Publishers Weekly (starred review) In this visually arresting and vibrantly narrated biography, Steptoe...emulates 1980s street art by layering paint, paper scraps, paint tubes, and photos on found-wood panels.... Steptoe downplays tragic elements, instead celebrating Basquiat's irreverance and brilliance.
  • The Horn Book (starred review) Javaka Steptoe is the perfect person to create this book: a tour de force that will introduce an important artist to a new generation.
  • School Library Journal (starred review) One extraordinary artist illuminates another in this textured, heartfelt picture book biography.... Pairing simple text with expressive, encompassing illustrations, this excellent title offers a new generation a fittingly powerful introduction to an artistic luminary.
  • School Library Connection (starred review) This is a beautifully illustrated biography...[and] an excellent read aloud, especially in the art classroom.
  • Booklist, starred review A lively, engaging introduction to a one-of-a-kind artist perfect for art-loving kids.... An excellent read-aloud.
  • Virginian-Pilot Vibrantly colored, humming with energy, Javaka Steptoe's paintings evoke the style of Jean-Michel Basquiat.
  • Chicago Tribune Steptoe tells a complex story in simple child-appropriate language and illustrates it with paintings brimming with joy, sorrow and outsized inspiration.
  • San Francisco Tribune Art need not be neat to be beautiful, a message underscored by this boldly beautiful bio of a 1980s phenom.
Title Information+
  • Publisher
    Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
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