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Books in Brief: A History of Pictures for Children by David Hockney and Martin Gayford

A History of Pictures for Children: From Cave Paintings to Computer Drawings by David Hockney & Martin Gayford; illustrated by Rose Blake; Abrams Books for Young Readers, 128 pages ($24.99) Ages 10 to 14.


Artist David Hockney and art critic Martin Gayford join forces for this stunning book, a fascinating, youth-friendly "conversation" between artist and critic that explores how and why humans have made pictures from the earliest cave paintings to the newest computer game.

Rather than offering a standard art history of periods and styles, this handsome volume, loaded with beautiful artwork and based on Hockney's best-selling book for adults, explores why humans have made art and how artists have created new ways of making pictures, blazing the trail for artists who came later.

Hockney notes that Jan Van Eyck's 1434 "Arnolfini Portrait," included "objects that had never been shown in that way before," including the mirror, the chandelier, the oranges by the window, the dirty wooden clogs. Gayford explores the connections between images from different times and places, juxtaposing "The Arnolfini Portrait" with Hockney's "1971 painting "Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy" (1970-71), noting "some pictures appeal to us even if the objects in them become unfamiliar" and observing that the rotary telephone in the 1971 painting appears just as strange to viewers today as Arnolfini's weird hat in the 1434 painting.

One particularly fascinating chapter, "Making Marks," explores the basics of drawing, "what makes a mark interesting," whether made with pen, charcoal, or pencil, or brushstrokes made with paint. Hockney sees the influence of Chinese drawing on Rembrandt in a small, expressive sketch, with minimal lines, of "a child being taught to walk" (1656). Hockney and Gayford offer interesting insights on Monet and his 1880 painting "Breakup of the Ice" on the Seine, a very rare occurrence that would have required Monet to immediately set to work and to work very fast. "Watch This Space" examines how artists set the scene and different ideas about perspective and includes Hockney's "Pearblossom Highway," a collage of 850 photos. The chapter on "Mirrors and Reflections" is also fascinating, examining Diego Velazquez's painting" Las Meninas" (1656), Monet's water lily paintings and Hockney's "Study of Water, Phoenix, Arizona" (1976).

The book explores how 17th century painter Johannes Vermeer achieved his extraordinary realism, the development of the camera obscura and the camera lucida and the advent of photography and moving pictures and "what's next for pictures." The playful illustrations by Rose Blake, daughter of artist Peter Blake, offer an entertaining running commentary throughout, expanding and clarifying in a most delightful way.

How We Roll by Natasha Friend; Farrar Straus & Giroux, 257 pages ($17.99) Ages 12 and up.
From award-winning author Natasha Friend, author of "Perfect," "Bounce" and "Where You'll Find Me," comes a heartwarming, compelling "coming-into-her-own" tale of  a girl regaining her self-confidence after a humiliating experience of bullying. Losing her hair the summer before 8th grade was just the start of a terrible year for Quinn McAvoy. When her parents decide to move to Massachusetts to enroll her autistic younger brother in a special school the summer before freshman year, Quinn sees the chance for a fresh start in a new school,  where no one knows she's wearing a wig and no one ever need know about the terrible year she had back home.  Quinn is amazed to find herself included with the popular girls at her new school, but past experience has taught her not to reveal too much about herself. She only discusses her hair loss, caused by autoimmune disorder alopecia, online to others with alopecia. But not being honest with her friends, rushing to the lavatory to treat her itchy scalp, living in fear her wig will slip begin to take their toll, especially since her friends have bared their souls to her.  Then Quinn starts to get to know a classmate, Nick, who is considerably more damaged than she is.  Friend offers a thrilling tale of Quinn's journey toward self-discovery, in this memorable character study of a teen who has learned to deal alone with terrible burdens because her parents are so preoccupied with the considerable needs of her younger brother.
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