Review: Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat
Title: Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat
Author and illustrator: Javaka Steptoe
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Ages: 4 - 8
Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat tells the story of an Afro Latino boy who made beautiful art while drawing outside the lines and dreamed of becoming a famous artist. Jean-Michel inherited his artistic vein from his mother Matilde, who taught him art was everywhere. He was badly injured in a car accident when he was a kid and he dealt with his mother's mental illness since he was a young man. As a young adult, he filled the streets of New York City with his radiant and genius art at night. Jean-Michel Basquiat achieved his dream of becoming a famous artist and big crowds came to see his artwork.
Jean-Michel Basquiat's art became a cultural phenomenon during the 1980s by breaking aesthetic barriers and addressing controversial subjects like capitalism and colonialism. I believe Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat is a great book to introduce little readers to his bold and brilliant work and see that becoming a famous artist is possible with fierce determination and creativity. Javaka Steptoe managed to catch the spirit of Basquiat's art with his own vibrant and bold illustrations for which he won the Randolph Caldecott Medal in 2017.
Note that the story's target audience are children, and as a result, most of his life's struggles, such as his drug addiction and depression, are left out. Steptoe included more information about Jean-Michel Basquiat's life and art at the end of the book, but I think it is more suitable for parents or older kids.
Rating: 5 stars
2017 Randolph Caldecott Medal
2017 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award
Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2016
School Library Journal Best Books of 2016
2017 ALA Notable Book for ChildrenA Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People 2017 Selection
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