Bryant, Jen. 2013. A SPLASH OF RED: THE LIFE AND ART OF HORACE PIPPIN. Ill. by Melissa Sweet. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 9780375867125 [Suggested Grade Levels K-3]
Bryant and Sweet present the life of artist Horace Pippen, from his childhood in the late 19th century through his success as a respected artist. As a child Pippen, with his large hands, enjoyed illustrating day-to-day events in his life. As he grew older, he discovered painting and used it as a hobby outside of his jobs requiring much physical labor. While fighting in World War I, Pippen injured his arm. Upon returning home, he was unable to continue working manual labor jobs, and painting was extremely difficult. He re-taught himself how to draw and paint, eventually earning acclaim in the art world.
The mixed-media art is eye-catching and beautifully illustrates the well-told story of one man's artistic hobby-turned-career. Both Bryant and Sweet provide notes at the conclusion, and there are resources for further research (books, a film, and web sites), as well as a map of the US depicting the current locations of Pippen's work on display.
A Splash of Red is an excellent choice for livening up a biography study, offering a refreshing alternative to the traditional focus on political figures. Additionally, children can compare and contrast different artists’ styles from the time period as well as from other time periods.
Other biographical books for children about artists:
Markel, Michelle. THE FANTASTIC JUNGLES OF HENRI ROUSSEAU. ISBN 9780802853646
Winter, Jonah. FRIDA. ISBN 9780590203203
Any of the titles from the Anholt’s Artists Books for Children series
By Jennifer E. Richey