Imogen: The Mother of Modernism and Three Boys

Amy Novesky, Author, Lisa Congdon, Illustrator
Amy Novesky, illus. by Lisa Congdon. Cameron + Company (www.cameronbooks.com), $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-937359-32-4
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Striking a tone of quiet intimacy and using simple sentence constructions, Novesky follows Georgia in Hawaii and Me, Frieda with another tribute to a female 20th-century artist. Young Imogen Cunningham's family had very little, but her father recognized his daughter's interest in photography and built her a darkroom, nurturing her early creative inclinations. After attending college ("She studied chemistry and botany. She read poetry. She was the only one in her family to graduate from a university"), Cunningham marries and has children of her own, building herself another darkroom and photographing her sons as they play in the garden. In her first children's book, Congdon conveys Cunningham's story through modest matte illustrations of rural life, which have the rough textures and skewed angles of American folk art. Her interpretations of Cunningham's photographs offer classical compositions of women in drapery or reclined on the grass, as well as portraits of her sons, father, and mother. Novesky downplays Cunningham's career outside the domestic sphere, painting her as an artist who took photographs throughout her life, seeking personal gratification over fame. Ages 4–up. (Nov.)
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