The People’s Painter: How Ben Shahn Fought for Justice with Art

Cynthia Levinson, illus. by Evan Turk. Abrams, $18.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-4197-4130-2
This profile of Jewish artist and activist Ben Shahn, who emigrated from Lithuania to America in 1906, highlights the threads of compassion and social justice that ran through his work. Shahn learned of injustice early in his life, witnessing his father’s banishment to Siberia for “demanding fair pay for working people,” and later experiencing anti-Semitism in America. Leaving school at age 14 to help support his family, Shahn attended art school at night while apprenticed to a lithographer. An unjust execution spurred Shahn’s social realism paintings, attention to which resulted in the U.S. government hiring him to take photographs across America that “revealed hard lives in troubled times.” Bold, richly layered multimedia illustrations by Turk feature abstracted characters in Shahn’s style, while Levinson’s smooth, well-researched narrative provides a comprehensive introduction to a justice-minded painter. Back matter includes an author’s note, an illustrator’s note, a timeline, and selected bibliography. Ages 4–8. (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 03/18/2021
Release date: 04/01/2021
Genre: Children's
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