cover image I’m Gonna Paint: Ralph Fasanella, Artist of the People

I’m Gonna Paint: Ralph Fasanella, Artist of the People

Anne Broyles, illus. by Victoria Tentler-Krylov. Holiday House, $18.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-8234-5006-0

A child of Italian immigrants, self-taught painter Ralph Fasanella (1914–1997) grew up to celebrate laborers in his art, as described in a telling that distills formative moments into an overview of his life and work. Spending childhood in a New York City tenement building, he pictured stories told by his mother, a dress factory worker who regularly discussed unions and workers’ rights. Later, as a Depression-era teen, Fasanella worked in garment factories and as an ice deliveryman, joining a union before going to work for one. At age 31, to lessen pain in his hands, he began drawing, then painting, learning about art by visiting museums. Hoping to reach even more working-class people through his paintings, he quit his job and, in time, became famous for his politically themed work. Broyles details Ralph’s life via an engaging narrative of the intersection between art and organizing, while Tentler-Krylov’s closely worked, watercolor-textured illustrations echo the artist’s own detailed style. Characters are portrayed with various skin tones. Extensive back matter concludes. Ages 4–8. (Oct.)