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

Barb Rosenstock, illus. by Mary GrandPré. Knopf, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-307-97848-6
“Is it a house?” “Is it a flower?” “What’s it supposed to be?” When an aunt gives Moscow schoolboy Vasily Kandinsky a paint box, no one knows what to make of the wild shapes he creates. He doesn’t just see the colors. He hears them: “blaring crimson... burbling green, clanging orange, and tinkling violet.” Even after he gives up his career teaching law years later and decides to study art, his teachers steer him toward traditional subjects. He resists, and his works become the art world’s first abstract paintings. Rosenstock (Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library) focuses on passages of Kandinsky’s writing that seem to indicate he experienced synesthesia, the neurological phenomenon that blurs the boundaries between the senses, and her prose strikes a balance between lightheartedness and lyricism. GrandPré’s (The Wee Hours) paintings, meanwhile, conjure up an entire epoch, lingering over the candelabras and tasseled drapes of the Kandinskys’ apartment, breathing life into all the characters, and conveying the energy and vitality of the colors Kandinsky hears. Contains an afterword and reproductions of some of Kandinsky’s works. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 11/11/2013
Release date: 02/11/2014
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Library Binding - 40 pages - 978-0-307-97849-3
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