Dorothea’s Eyes and The Noisy Paintbox

Another author I’m thrilled to meet at the Week of Writing (WOW) Retreat is Barb Rosenstock. I’ve already started my list of questions for her. What an amazing writer! It’s hard to choose just two favorites…

Title: Dorothea’s EIMG_1078yes, Dorothea Lange Photographs the Truth

Written by: Barb Rosenstock

Illustrated by: Gerard DuBois
Calkins Creek, 2016, biography

Suitable for ages: 8-12

Lexile: 580

Themes/topics: photography, Dorothea Lange, Great Depression,

Dorothea opens her grey-green eyes. They are special eyes. They see what others miss…

Brief synopsis
(from After a childhood bout of polio left her with a limp, all Dorothea Lange wanted to do was disappear. But this desire not to be seen helped her learn how to blend into the background and observe others acutely. With a passion for the artistic life, and in spite of her family’s disapproval, Dorothea pursued her dream to become a photographer and focused her lens on the previously unseen victims of the Great Depression. This poetic biography tells the emotional story of Lange’s evolution as one of the founders of documentary photography. It includes a gallery of Lange’s photographs, and an author’s note, timeline, and bibliography.

Activities and Resources:
Teacher Resources from J. Paul Getty Museum

Why I like this book:
I am proclaiming Rosenstock the Queen of Openers. She grabs us with her first lines and proceeds to reveal Dorothea’s emotional core with rich, powerful language. The imagery of her eyes carries readers through the story, bringing us to understand how she sees with her heart. So much history invites exploration – polio, the Great Depression, photography, unemployment, breadlines. The illustrations appear to have the texture of aged photographs. Every aspect of the story is well crafted, a supreme example of nonfiction with heart.


IMG_1079The Noisy Paint Box, The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art

Illustrated by Mary Grandpre, A Caldecott Honor Book (needless to say, AMAZING illustrations!)

Knopf, 2014, Historical Fiction

Vasya Kandinsky spent his days learning to be a proper Russian boy.
He studied bookfuls of math, science, and history.

He practiced piano scales to the marching click of the metronome.
He sat stiff and straight at the dressed-up dinners while the grown-ups talked and talked and talked.
Vasya’s well-off world was perfectly polite…until the day his aunt gave him a small wooden box.
[The illustrations in the opening are priceless!]

Synopsis: (from the book jacket) Vasya Kandinsky was a proper little boy: he studied math and history, he practiced the piano, he sat up straight and was perfectly polite. And when his family sent him to art classes, they expected him to paint pretty houses and flowers—like a proper artist.

But as Vasya opened his paint box and began mixing the reds, the yellows, the blues, he heard a strange sound—the swirling colors trilled like an orchestra tuning up for a symphony! And as he grew older, he continued to hear brilliant colors singing and see vibrant sounds dancing. But was Vasya brave enough to put aside his proper still lifes and portraits and paint . . . music?

In this exuberant celebration of creativity, Barb Rosenstock and Mary GrandPrй tell the fascinating story of Vasily Kandinsky, one of the very first painters of abstract art. Throughout his life, Kandinsky experienced colors as sounds, and sounds as colors—and bold, groundbreaking works burst forth from his noisy paint box.

Why I like it:
ANOTHER great opening! Rosenstock reigns supreme. [as noted above – she is the Queen of Openers.] Besides the tremendously detailed and expressive illustrations, the text sings! A great story about an artist who found a way to paint feelings.

See Ann Kelley’s post for some creative activities.

Visit author Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Books for a plethora of picture books listed by title and topic/theme, each with teacher/parent resources.

6 thoughts on “Dorothea’s Eyes and The Noisy Paintbox

  1. Two great historical fiction shares today! I love Dorothea’s Eyes. Being a passionate observer she could see through her lens. I also like the Noisy Paint Box! Such a beautiful story about a boy listening to the music within him to create such masterpieces! Great cover!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I LOVE both of these books! Well, I really love ALL of Barb’s books. She gave a presentation at the Highlights Summer Camp I attended last year. She’s sooo creative and NICE, too. She’s gonna ROCK the WOWers! Have fun!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Beth, I haven’t seen these yet. But now I can’t wait! Such great subjects and openings. I can’t wait to meet her at the retteat.

    Liked by 1 person

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