"I cannot sleep unless I am surrounded by books."

Borges

Saturday, November 10, 2007

On My Block: Stories and Paintings by Fifteen Artists

On My Block: Stories and Paintings by Fifteen Artists
Editor: Dana Goldberg

Artists: Cecilia Alvarez, Carl Angel, Cbabi Bayoc, Kim Cogan, Maya Christina Gonzalez, Yasmin Hernandez, Felicia Hoshino, Sara Kahn, Conan Low, Joseph Pearson, Elaine Pedlar, Ann Phong, Jose Ramirez, Tonel, Jonathan Warm Day

Publisher: Children’s Book Press
ISBN-10: 0892392207
ISBN-13: 978-0892392209

On My Block is an incredible homage to neighborhoods, those childhood neighborhoods that were filled with enchantment and the wonder of young eyes and minds. Each sumptuous and very different page features a different artist talking about the neighborhoods of their childhood and what made them wonderful. Some pages are the stuff of dreams, others are filled with magic while some are grounded in reality, yet others contain the wispy quality of memory.

The fifteen artists are each completely wonderful in their own right and there is a small bio and photo of each at the bottom corner of each page, giving children and parents the opportunity to learn more about them. Each page is a journey of discovery.

Travel to Cuba with the artist known as Tonel and let his bright colors liven up your day.

Take a walk with Cecilia Alarez through her grandmother’s garden in Tijuana and feel the power of Mother Earth and view nature as a Goddess.

Visit with Los Angeles artist and teacher, Jose Ramirez in his East L.A. neighborhood on Ithaca Street (I lived there too!). His lush earth tones and warm brown faces will make you smile.

Yasmin Hernandez takes you through a gritty city dressed as Wonder Woman on her magical tour.

Maya Christina Gonzalez sweeps you away with her gorgeous use of color and sweeping dreamlike style.

Felicia Hoshino takes you to San Francisco where you have the fun of working at making tofu. Her soft colors made me think of the delicate, pale nature of tofu.

Cbabi Bayoc takes us to the park and that joy of just hanging on monkey bars. His wonderful illustrations of children’s faces smiling with the simple joy will bring back memories and make you smile long after you close the book.

I could go on and on about each artist and find more and more to ooh and ahh over. I open this book after a long day and I can’t help but be transported to that magical place of childhood where everything has magical potential. This is a book for both children and adults and is highly recommended. Each of the artists is well worth learning about and their websites or websites about them are easily found. On My Block is a wonderful way to teach children about art and artists, styles and diversity.

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