Monday, January 22, 2007
Extraordinary Ordinary People: Five American Masters of Traditional Arts
Govenar, Alan. 2006. EXTRAORDINARY ORDINARY PEOPLE: FIVE AMERICAN MASTERS OF TRADITIONAL ARTS. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick. ISBN 0763620475 [Suggested Grade Levels 6 and up]
Structured around artists and their crafts, Govenar profiles five American artisans whose work strives to preserve the artistic and cultural traditions of their ancestors. The featured art forms include boat building, weaving, wax-flower making, costume design for Mardi Gras parades and celebrations, and singing with the Beijing Opera. The art created by these ordinary Americans (all of whom are recipients of a National Heritage Fellowship given by the National Endowment for the Arts) offers today’s generation an opportunity to better understand the diversity and artistic treasures that are created by the many cultures in America.
Drawing on the stories of these remarkable Americans, Govenar’s offering is a shining example of fine nonfiction for young readers. The strengths of this work are many; by using vivid details and accessible text, the narrative quality of Govenar’s language flows and quickly draws readers into the lives of each of these unusual artists and their crafts. Supported by strong captions, full color photographs saturate the pages, capturing the step by step process of the art in detail. In addition, he offers an abundance of source materials, including a user friendly index, a “further reading” section, and a photography credits page.
After reading Govenar’s offering, teens could write an “I Am” poem by analyzing information from one of the narrative threads from the text. After completing the poem, they could illustrate the poem using details from the book or research photos available on the web.
Other books about folk art and folk artists:
D'Addetta, Joseph. AMERICAN FOLK ART DESIGNS AND MOTIFS FOR ARTISTS AND CRAFTSPEOPLE. ISBN 0486247171
Panchyk, Richard. AMERICAN FOLK ART FOR KIDS: WITH 21 ACTIVITIES. ISBN 1556524994
By Rose Brock