Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Metal Man

Reynolds, Aaron. 2008. METAL MAN. Ill. by Paul Hoppe. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge. ISBN 9781580891509 [Suggested Grade Levels 1-4]

What is art? Answers abound, but for young Devon art is the metal sculpture that his friend Mitch, aka Metal Man, welds out of junk. Bored in his hot city neighborhood, Devon visits Mitch often just to watch him at work. Devon’s mother scoffs at the Metal Man, saying that what he does is neither work nor art. Mitch’s sweat and determination to bring his inspirations to life convinces Devon that the sculptures are definitely worthwhile. “When I hang out with metal man, I get it right. I see what I see.” One day, Mitch encourages the reluctant Devon to put words to his own thoughts for a sculpture, and then interprets Devon’s idea into a piece of art that becomes the pride of Devon and his family.

Told from Devon’s viewpoint, the text is rich with figurative language and African-American dialect. Full-spread illustrations in subdued colors and tones mimic the movement of the lively boy and the spark-flying work of the welder. They also provide fine examples of artistic perspective. Together, story and pictures provide powerful encouragement and inspiration for all budding artists.

Make art from recycled objects. Have children get a picture of a “recycled sculpture” in their minds. Require that they express their idea in words so that someone else can interpret what the piece will look like. Older children should be encouraged to write down their visions, making a journal that will accompany their artwork.

Other picture books about making art from “junk”:
Slaymaker, Melissa Eskridge. BOTTLE HOUSES: THE CREATIVE WORLD OF GRANDMA PRISBY. ISBN 9780808071313
Ward, Helen. THE TIN FOREST. ISBN 9780142501566

By Rebecca S. McKee

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