Academic journal article New England Reading Association Journal

The Art Lesson

Academic journal article New England Reading Association Journal

The Art Lesson

Article excerpt

DEPAOLA, TOMIE. (1989). The Art Lesson. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons. ISBN 0-399-21688-X.

In an autobiographical look at an artist's pre-school beliefs and early school realities, Tomie dePaola (1989) charms us with his depiction of himself as a precocious child in The Art Lesson. The pictures young Tommy draws are central on each page, as those who display them (his mother, on her kitchen wall; his father in his barbershop) are seen from a child's viewpoint. The focus on Tommy's pictures is stronger as dePaola depicts only backs of heads or profiles of characters, especially in the Rockwell-like self-portrait on the last page. The simplicity of the well-selected details in the art enriches the story, such as his Irish grandparents' bins and stacks in their grocery story, and the Italian grandmother's little religious statue seeming to look over her shoulder at Tommy's angel picture. When he starts school and finds art is only one day a week his disappointment is compounded by the limits of powdery tempera paint. …

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