As a student I loved picture books, and the more pictures the better! When I was looking through a list of books to review I became captivated my the illustrations of The Noisy Paint Box.
The Noisy Paint Box by Barb Rosentock and illustrated by Mary Grandpré, received a Caldecott Honor in 2015. Lesser awards include the Amazon 2014 Best Books of the Year So Far and the Museum Store Association Buyer’s Choice. The illustrations of this book bring to life the historical fiction story, in which Vasily Kandinsky describes hearing a hissing sound as a child when he first mixed colors in the paint box his aunt gave him.
The author’s note provides detailed information that explains that it is likely that Kandinsky had a harmless genetic condition called synesthesia. This condition along with exposure to an exhibition of Claude Monet’s Haystacks of art that was not realistic, opened up his eyes to seeing the world differently. This background knowledge would be a great addition to a classroom conversation, not only about being comfortable in your own skin, but also in people being different (whether genetically, mentally, physically, or personality wise).
Mary Grandprés gorgeous illustrations allowed the content of the story to shine through. The early pictures of the book were in dark and more somber colors and then the first site of other colors was when Vasya received the paint-box palette. Colors flowed out of the box and really represented the sound that he heard. “The swirling colors trilled like an orchestra tuning up for a magical symphony” and this was expressed in the wonderful clouds of colors that contained instruments and music notes. Throughout the story you could feel Vasya, the main characters, artwork come to life as he struggled between conforming to the norm or following his own path.
Art can be an intimidating thing for young children, but I loved how Rosentock was able to bring artwork to life. It felt as if the colors and sounds were another character in the story. Vasya goes back and forth between following the structure and expectations that people are suppose to draw houses and flowers, or choosing to be himself. The result of him creating his own abstract art shows how children should be given the opportunities and space to use their own creativity.
“Art should make you feel, like music” said Vasya to his art friends. This is a very telling line and how children should feel about all things they are interested in. They should feel comfortable to explore their passions and live outside the box. This should be a message to all students and teachers.
The writing of this book was nothing extraordinary, but the message and pictures made it a page-turner and one I wanted to continue to read over and over again. Every time I flipped a page, I was captivated by a new image hidden within the colors and story of the young Vasya.
Check out this book trailer to see more of these great illustrations!
By, Jordyn Margolis