Radiant Child: The Story Of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat (Javaka Steptoe)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Radiant Child: The Story Of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat by Javaka Steptoe, a loving biography of the singular artist and the childhood that inspired him.

From the very start, Jean-Michel dreamed of being a famous artist. He would draw and draw and draw, filling pages and sheets of whatever paper he could find with the pictures in his head. What he drew was often strange, even ugly, odd and misshapen, but somehow also beautiful. His stylish, art-loving mother encouraged this passion, drawing with him, reading him poetry, and bringing him to museums so he could be inspired. Even after his mother became mentally ill and was committed, Jean-Michel would visit her, bringing his artwork and promising that he would be a famous artist one day. When he was old enough, he struck out, making his canvas the streets of Manhattan and whatever blank walls he could find. He drew strange and wondrous things that were scary, chaotic, powerful, and beautiful. He eventually became a famous and beloved artist, and was nicknamed what his parents had known him to be from boyhood: the Radiant Child.

Really gorgeous. This is a very admiring biography that captures the style and stories behind Basquiat’s standout artwork. The story focuses on his drive and motivation, yet is honest enough to not shy away from difficult details (with the exception of Basquiat’s death by heroin overdose, which is covered in the appendix). It’s a lesson in how we learn and make art from pain, and well done. The art is gorgeous, using practical backgrounds and employing many of Basquiat’s signature styles to show his journey as a boy and an artist. The length is fine, and JJ especially loved the colorful art. A great introduction to a troubled yet brilliant artist for little readers, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

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