How Would You Paint a Snowman?

Lynn: Most of us, if asked to paint a snowman, would start with three circles, then add a few details. But Amy and Greg Newbold ask what a snowman would look like in the hands of famous painters. If Picasso Painted a Snowman (2017) is their delightful answer. A chubby little hamster takes readers through a series of snowman pictures, all painted in the styles of iconic artists, from Picasso to Jackson Pollack.

If Picasso Painted a Snowman by Amy and Greg Newbold

Vibrant, imaginative, and playful, this charming book is an art history survey course in a picture book. Newbold has done a terrific job using images and concepts kids can easily grasp to demonstrate the individual styles of 17 artists. The back matter is just as well done as the illustrations. Short biographies of each artist focus on their style. Greg Newbold’s Advice for Artists adds three wonderful tips for young aspiring artists.  And a section called “Meet the Artists” notes that none featured in the book actually painted a snowman.

I loved all the illustrations here, so choosing a favorite would be almost impossible. I’m currently wavering between Gustav Klimt’s and Van Gogh’s examples. How about you?

Cindy:  I don’t know, Lynn. I like your choices a lot, but Roy Lichtenstein’s comic snowman sure packs a wallop. BLAM!

As I write my part of this post on a particularly difficult morning, I feel a lot like the surreal snowmen in the Salvador Dali version. Here’s how Amy describes their riff on melting clocks in Dali’s famous painting The Persistence of Memory:

In Salvador Dali’s winter fantasy, snowmen drip like melty cheese.

The hamster’s Dali-esque curved mustache is the pièce de résistance! (And just one example of rodent humor on display.)

My very favorite spread, though, might be one with a blank canvas propped on an easel with an encouragement to copy the page and make your own snowman. This is a ready-made art lesson for readers of any age. I want to get out my paints and create my own. Kids will, too. This book is sure to sell in art museum gift shops, but make sure your library or classroom or child or grandchild has one too. . .and some art supplies!




About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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