My Name is Georgia: A Portrait

by Jeanette Winter

It's no easy task to make the life and art of Georgia O'Keeffe accessible... read more

It's no easy task to make the life and art of Georgia O'Keeffe accessible to young readers but Jeanette Winter does it brilliantly in this picture-book portrait of the artist. As she did with muralist Diego Rivera in Diego by Jonah Winter (Knopf, 1994), Winter skillfully controls the scale of her own illustrations so that readers get a true sense of the largeness of the original art, an amazing feat in this 7 3/4 x 9 1/4" volume. She has subtly stylized her illustrations to suggest the inspiration O'Keeffe took from the surrounding landscapes of her life. The clouds in the sky, for example, are a direct reference to her "Sky above Clouds" series painted in the early 1960s. In a Manhattan skyline we see the edge of one of O'Keeffe's famous orange poppies peeking out from behind a skyscraper, accompanying a direct quote from the artist: "The distance has always been calling me." The spare first-person text that accompanies her artwork is also composed with skill and grace. Using occasional direct quotes from O'Keeffe's own writing (documented in notes), Winter gives us a sense of the artist's reclusive nature and commitment to her art. Her lyric simplicity not only makes the book accessible to begining readers, it also offers insight into O'Keeffe's character: "I painted a camellia. I painted it BIG, so people would notice. / I painted a jack-in-the-pulpit. I painted it BIG, so people would see." Taken together, the text and illustrations work in perfect harmony to bring this larger-than-life artist down to a child's eye view so they too will notice and see. Honor Book, 1998 CCBC Caldecott Award Discussion. (Ages 5-8)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 1998

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