Just Behave, Pablo Picasso!

Jonah Winter, illus. by Kevin Hawkes. Scholastic/Levine, $18.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-545-13291-6
Winter (Barack) resists the “good for you” air of some picture-book biographies in this dynamic reimagining of Picasso’s rocket trip to the top of the 20th-century art world, while Hawkes (The Wicked Big Toddlah Goes to New York) is energized rather than intimidated by the challenge of painting the great painter. Hawkes shows the mercurial artist burning through art school (“In the time it takes them to do a sketch, Picasso has completed a large oil painting”), charming the Parisian gallery scene (“C’est magnifique! Paint about two hundred more paintings just like that!”), then enraging the French critical establishment with “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon,” a painting that mimics the African masks Picasso has fallen in love with. (Hawkes’s top-hatted critics look suspiciously Cubist.) Will Picasso accede to the critics’ demands? “He doesn’t want to, he doesn’t have to, and he’s not going to! Hah!” By dramatizing Picasso’s development rather than merely recounting it, Winter keeps readers fascinated, and by making Picasso a superhero—he bursts right through the canvas of a serene landscape on the second page—he dispels any notion of art as tired or irrelevant. Ages 4–8. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/19/2011
Release date: 02/01/2012
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