Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Sparky: The Life and Art of Charles Schultz
Gherman, Beverly. 2010. SPARKY: THE LIFE AND ART OF CHARLES SCHULZ. San Francisco: Chronicle Books. ISBN 9780811867900 [Suggested Grade Levels 4-8]
Beverly Gherman’s biography of Charles Schulz presents a well-rounded look at a fascinating man and his prolific career. Charles’ interests, hobbies, and life experiences all played a role in creating the Peanuts comic strip that would become his legacy. The boy known as “Sparky” loved to entertain others with funny drawings inspired by his favorite comic strips. Luckily, Sparky’s parents and teachers encouraged his talent. By the time Schulz was in his early thirties, the Peanuts comic strip ran in newspapers nationwide. When the first Peanuts television program won an Emmy in 1966, Schulz replied, “Charlie Brown is not used to winning, so we thank you.” Readers of all ages have continued to enjoy the adventures of Charlie Brown and the gang for more than fifty years.
An excellent example of engaging nonfiction, the book design mimics comic strips as text appears on brightly colored pages and speech bubbles announce each chapter. Gherman’s biography features many illustrations from the Peanuts strip as it evolved through the decades. Photographs of Schulz will interest readers as the author explains Sparky’s life story and its impact on his art. Gherman includes numerous quotes from Schulz and his family to enrich the biography. Lengthy bibliography, image credits, and index demonstrate the author’s thorough research. This biography should enjoy a broad audience.
Readers can create their own comic strips to reflect the triumphs and sorrows of their daily life. Studying various artists’ works can help children and teens develop their personal storytelling and artistic style.
Other artists’ biographies written by Beverly Gherman:
ANSEL ADAMS: AMERICA’S PHOTOGRAPHER. ISBN 9780316824453
NORMAN ROCKWELL: STORYTELLER WITH A BRUSH. ISBN 9780689820014
By Kimberly C. Kinnaird