GEORGIA'S BONES

Jennifer Bryant, Author, Bethanne Andersen, Illustrator , illus. by Bethanne Andersen. Eerdmans $16 (0p) ISBN 978-0-8028-5217-5

This picture-book look at Georgia O'Keeffe imagines the seeds planted in childhood that blossomed into her career as an artist. On her family's farm in Wisconsin, young Georgia is drawn to the fleeting shapes and images that pass before her daily ("As a child, shapes often drifted in and out of Georgia's mind. Curved and straight, round or square, she studied them, and let them disappear"). Nature, in particular, captivates the girl, as she collects flowers, stones and other objects. Then the story abruptly shifts: "When Georgia grew up, she moved to New York City and rented a studio on the top floor." Still fascinated by the world around her, she studies, then paints the tall buildings of the city, as well as seashells, the landscape of New Mexico and animal bones, which would become a signature theme in her paintings. "She didn't know why [the bones] pleased her so. Perhaps it was the quiet way they did their work—the years of being invisible, and then, when everything fell away, they appeared, pure and beautiful," Bryant (The Trial ) speculates. The narrative serves as more of a tribute to the artist's way of envisioning the world than as a coherent story. Andersen (A Packet of Seeds ) layers gouache, colored pencil and pastel to create textured, luminous sunsets and landscapes; her depictions of nature are stronger than her portraits of the artist. In both text and pictures, O'Keeffe's character remains distant and inscrutable, which may limit readers' engagement in the story. Ages 6-up. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 03/14/2005
Release date: 01/01/2005
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