Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday – September 16, 2015

nonfictionIt’s been a pretty crazy week here at the library, so I’ve only got a single book to share for today’s Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday, but it’s a pretty good one.


Title: The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art
Author: Barb Rosenstock
Illustrator: Mary Grandpre
Publisher: Alfred A Knopf
Publication Date: 2014
Genre/Format: Nonfiction/Picture Book 
Publisher’s Summary: In this exuberant celebration of creativity, Barb Rosenstock and Mary GrandPré 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.

My Two Cents: I have always been fond of picture book biographies, particularly those that celebrate less well known or recognized figures, such as abstract art pioneer Vasily Kandinsky. This brilliantly illustrated biography celebrates individuality, personal expression, creativity and independence, and introduces children to an inspiring historical figure. Kandinsky was unlike other children (or adults) – it is thought that he had a genetic condition called synesthesia that allowed him to actually hear colours. The story celebrates Kandinsky’s condition, which inspired him to create groundbreaking works of art, suggesting to young readers that being different isn’t something to be feared, but rather something to be embraced and explored. Being unique is what makes us special, and we all have different gifts to share with the world.

The Noisy Paint Box is also the story of a man who spent his life trying to please others by doing what was expected of him, only to find true happiness when he finally allowed himself to pursue his own dreams. Children are encouraged to embrace their individuality, and have the courage to pursue their dreams, regardless of what other people might think of them.

All in all, this is a beautifully designed and illustrated celebration of individual artistic expression, boundless creativity, self-discovery, and personal courage that would be a stunning addition to any nonfiction collection. But don’t take my word for it – it’s a Junior Library Guild selection, as well as a Caldecott Honor book.

9 thoughts on “Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday – September 16, 2015

  1. It is a wonderful book, I agree, Jane. I had a student a while ago with synesthesia and he would have loved this picture book. FYI-There is a middle grade book also about this, titled A Mango-Shaped Space, by Wendy Mass. And I keep forgetting to tell you how much I like your header-just so creative. Have a great rest of the week!


  2. There is so much to embrace with this book. I hope I can find a copy to read soon. Books that celebrate creativity through the lives of artists (of any type: musician, dancer, photographer, etc.) are mentor texts for modeling how we might also live our lives. Thank you, Jane!


    • So true! I sometimes feel that the arts don’t get as much love as they could/should in our educations – it’s important to emphasize maths and sciences and practical courses, of course, but to be fully rounded human beings it’s vital that we have some sort of exposure to creative enterprises, like music, dance, photography and art.


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