A Colorful World: Books about Art

Now that the school year has started, we all need to remember to set aside some time for creativity! Creating and exploring new ideas is what drives our society, and artists have the incredible opportunity to share their voices and perspectives with the world in a way that lets people connect on a deeper level. Explore the list of books below to learn about some amazing artwork and artists as well as how art has the power to change the world.

To find more books about the amazing art in our world, try searching the catalog using a combination of subject terms like “juvenile fiction” for fiction books or “juvenile literature” for nonfiction books along with “art,” “artists,” “painting,” “painters,” or a particular artist or style of art you want to learn more about. Many nonfiction books about art can be found in the 700 call number range.

Bryant, Jen.
A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin. 2013 (Biography: picture book)
From the time he was a little boy, Horace Pippin loved to draw. That love and his skill continued to grow throughout his life, but after he was injured in World War II, he had to relearn how to draw with his left hand supporting his right. Quotes from Pippin in the beautifully detailed and childlike illustrations make his feelings and art come alive. Short, simple sentences with a relatable main character will draw young readers in, and they will be inspired by his strength and determination to do what he loved.
[S-Collection Q. SB. P665b]

Burleigh, Robert.
Edward Hopper Paints His World. 2014 (Biography: picture book)
When Edward Hopper was a child, he decided that he would be an artist one day. It was a long and often lonely road, but he never stopped working towards his goal. The detailed and beautifully created illustrations on each page lend clarity to what Hopper’s mission as an artist was: to draw what moved him. With an afterword, descriptions of some of his famous paintings, a timeline, and more, this biography delves into Edward Hopper’s life and makes him accessible to young readers.
[S-Collection Q. SB. H798b]

Campoy, F. Isabel.
Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood. 2016 (Picture book: based on a true story)
Mira loved to draw and color and gave away her artwork to everyone she saw, making her city a little less gray, but she was only one person. One day, however, a man came to town and started creating a mural, eventually inviting the whole neighborhood to join in and help make something beautiful. The vibrant colors leap off the page and readers will love to see what happens when a community comes together.
[S-Collection Q. SE. C158m]

Harvey, Jeanne Walker.
Maya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines. 2017 (Picture book: biography)
This beautiful picture book tells the story of Maya Lin, the artist-architect who created the Vietnam Veterans Memorial along with many other structures and spaces. Growing up, Maya learned to see the art and beauty in the spaces around her and wanted others to see it as well, so she studied architecture. Readers will love being able to explore her creations in the detailed illustrations and be a part of her art – just like Maya Lin wants.
[S-Collection Q. SB. L735h]

Heiligman, Deborah.
Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers. 2017 (Nonfiction: biography, chapter book)
The author paints the world of Vincent Van Gogh and his brother Theo with a beautiful and intimate storytelling that lets readers delve into their lives. Based on the 658 letters that Vincent wrote to Theo throughout his life, this in-depth novel is the winner of the 2018 YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults Award. Reading this book is like a painting – you stand aloof from it, yet still feel intimately attached to the emotions that are portrayed – and readers will want to savor the experience.
[S-Collection S.759.9492 H3636v]

Hicks, Deron R.
The Van Gogh Deception. 2017 (Fiction: chapter book)
Found at the National Gallery in Washington D.C. in front of a Degas sculpture, a boy can’t remember who he is or where he came from. As he works to discover his identity, he races against time to put together the clues of his origins with the facts he somehow knows about artists in order to stop one of the most daring art frauds in history. This exciting adventure book will keep readers on the edge of their seats and have them exploring art with the QR codes interspersed throughout the text.
[S-Collection S. H5293v]

Manning, Mick.
The Story of Paintings: A History of Art for Children. 2017 (Nonfiction)
With a narrative voice, this large format nonfiction book tells the history of art, hitting the highlights throughout the ages – from the Lascaux Cave Paintings to The Starry Night and all the way to Jean-Michel Basquiat. Depictions of various pieces of artwork are on every page, along with easy to understand summaries and fun cartoons with captions and amusing thought bubbles. Inquisitive minds will love this introduction to some of the most famous art and will want to learn more!
[S-Collection Q. S.709 M316s]

MacKnight, Wendy McLeod.
The Frame-Up. 2018 (Fiction: chapter book)
At the Beaverbrook Gallery, the one rule you must follow is not letting anyone know that the paintings are alive, and Mona Dunn just broke it. One day Sargent Singer, the son of the gallery owner, discovers her secret, and they must work together in order to do some sleuthing in order to save the gallery from a potential art heist. Adventure and fantasy abound in this novel, and readers will enjoy delving into their imaginations and exploring the world hidden behind the frame.
[S-Collection S. M2182f]

Newbold, Amy and Greg.
If Picasso Painted a Snowman. 2017 (Nonfiction: picture book)
Fun and whimsical, this picture book follows the “what if” scenario to explore how different artists would have painted a snowman. This simple concept lets children see the styles of various artists without being didactic along with a not-so-subtle nod to the adults in the room with playful versions of famous paintings such as “The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dalí” (melting clocks) and “American Gothic House” by Grant Wood (the farmer holding a pitchfork with his wife/daughter).
[S-Collection S.709 N425i]

Wells, Marcia.
Mystery on Museum Mile (Eddie Red Undercover #1). 2014 (Fiction: chapter book)
Edmund Xaxier Lonnrot, better known by his codename Eddie Red, is thrust into the case of a lifetime when his special skills are needed. With a photographic memory and the ability to draw whatever he sees, the NYPD needs the sixth grader’s talents in order to track down the dangerous group The Picasso Gang before they get away with the art theft of the century. Full of puzzles, fun, and art, this book is a page turner and exciting adventure for readers of all ages.
Be sure to look for Mystery in Mayan Mexico #2 (S. W46272my) and Doom at Grant’s Tomb #3 (S. W46272d) also found in the S-Collection!
[S-Collection S. W46272m]

The Show Must Go On! Actors, Musicians, and Other Creative Folks

In the midst of Hollywood’s award season, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the glitz and glamour of famous stars. Famous actors and actresses walk the red carpet in beautiful designer outfits. Famous musicians put on spectacular shows during Grammy performances, sold-out concerts, and Super Bowl half-time shows. Famous authors and painters might not always get as much time in the limelight, but they still produce entertaining and thoughtful pieces of literature and art. If you’ve ever wondered how these famous people got started, look no further! Browse the list of books below to discover the humble beginnings and fascinating inspirations of some of the world’s greatest artists.

To find more children’s books about famous artists, please use our online catalog and search subject terms similar to “artists” and “juvenile” or “musicians” and “juvenile” in the advanced search boxes. Feel free to use whatever artistic career you’re interested in and see what inspiring books you find in our S-Collection.

Actors and Actresses

Cardillo, Margaret.
Just Being Audrey. 2011.
This enchanting tale features colorful illustrations that truly bring to life the tale of Audrey Hepburn’s journey to fame. With childhood dreams of becoming Europe’s top ballerina, Audrey is faced with a multitude of road blocks that lead her to the world of acting instead. An incredibly delightful read.
[SSHEL S-Collection SB. H5292c]

Michelson, Richard.
Fascinating: The Life of Leonard Nimoy. 2016.
True to its title, this book tells the fascinating life of Leonard Nimoy and his journey to starring in one of the most popular television shows of all time: Star Trek. From a young age, Nimoy loved to perform, but his parents wanted him to set his sights on a more practical career, like becoming a musician. Nimoy never quit on his dream and did everything in his power to reach the stardom he always knew he was capable of achieving.
[SSHEL S-Collection Q. SB. N713m]

Yoo, Paula.
Shining Star: The Anna May Wong Story. 2009.
An inspiring story of how famous actress Anna May Wong overcame racism and adversity in Hollywood to proudly represent people of Asian descent on film. Disgusted with being cast in stereotypical roles and watching white actors perform in “yellow face,” Anna May Wong moves from California to China to act in roles that respectfully and truthfully represent her culture.
[SSHEL S-Collection Q. SB. W84y]

Artists

Herkert, Barbara.
Mary Cassatt: Extraordinary Impressionist Painter. 2015.
With simple text and beautiful impressionist-style illustrations, this book dives into the life of Mary Cassatt, a champion for female empowerment in the art world. Overcoming adversity as a woman in the 1800s, Mary proves that anyone can create beautiful, inspiring art.
[SSHEL S-Collection Q. SB. C343h]

Rubin, Susan Goldman.
Andy Warhol: Pop Art Painter. 2006.
Full of bold colors, family photographs, and pictures of Andy’s art, this book tells the story of Andy Warhol’s life, from a young boy from Pittsburgh who loved to draw to the wildly famous, eccentric artist who turned a Campbell’s soup can into a world-renowned painting.
[SSHEL S-Collection SB. W275r]

Rubin, Susan Goldman.
Edward Hopper: Painter of Light and Shadow. 2007.
The story of famous artist Edward Hopper’s life and maturation as an artist in the early half of 20th Century America. Each page includes pictures of Hopper’s drawings and paintings, starting from his earliest sketches to his most famous painting, Nighthawks.
[SSHEL S-Collection Q. SB. H798r]

Winter, Jonah.
Frida. 2002.
The inspiring story of Frida Khalo’s incredible resilience. After suffering from a bus accident that nearly killed her, Frida endured the constant pain that enveloped her body by escaping through her art. As the daughter of a photographer and painter, Frida learned a love of art from her father and let her imagination lead her life. A simple yet beautiful read.
[SSHEL S-Collection Q. S. 759.972 W734f]

Musicians

Golio, Gary.
When Bob Met Woody: The Story of the Young Bob Dylan. 2011.
A story that proves the truly life-changing effects of folk music. Whenever he felt alone or sad, Bob Dylan channeled his emotions into the music he listened to and performed. Never deterred by his humble beginnings, Bob strove to make his idol, Hank Williams, proud by singing songs about the honest struggles of life. Complete with quotes from Bob and stunning illustrations throughout.
[SSHEL S-Collection Q. SB. D996g]

Reich, Susanna.
Fab Four Friends: The Boys Who Became the Beatles. 2015.
With space dedicated to each of the member’s childhoods and backgrounds, this book tells the story of how the Beatles let their shared passion for music change the history of the music scene forever. An incredibly interesting read for anyone who loves these British icons.
[SSHEL S-Collection Q. S.782.421660922 R2711f]

Russell-Brown, Katheryn.
Little Melba and Her Big Trombone. 2014.
A bright and colorful tale of Melba Liston’s journey to stardom as a female trombone player. As a little girl, Melba loved jazz music and knew she was meant to play the trombone. She gracefully overcame racist and sexist comments that people directed toward her for being a black woman touring the country in a jazz band. She let her voice be heard through her trombone and played along fellow famous musicians across the world.
[SSHEL S-Collection Q. SB. L698r]

Winter, Jonah.
How Jelly Roll Morton Invented Jazz. 2015.
A magical telling of the life and accomplishments of Ferdinand Joseph La Menthe (famously known as Jelly Roll Morton). Complete with song lyrics, a “recipe for jazz,” and an inviting second-person narration, the story of this “father of jazz” is a true delight.
[SSHEL S-Collection Q. SB. M889w]

Writers

Burleigh, Robert.
Langston’s Train Ride. 2004.
Written in first-person point of view, this beautiful story lets readers enter the mind of a young Langston Hughes as he finds inspiration for his famous poem, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers.” With stunning visual and verbal artistry throughout, this book offers a unique look at this famous poet’s early life and works.
[SSHEL S-Collection Q. SB. L285b]

Krull, Kathleen.
Road to Oz: Twists, Turns, Bumps, and Triumphs in the Life of L. Frank Baum. 2008.
A dazzling tale of L. Frank Baum’s life, starting from his golden childhood to the everyday adventures he found as inspiration while writing his best-selling children’s book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. A great story that reminds you to always keep a sense of wonder and a love for adventure.
[SSHEL S-Collection Q. SB. B327k]

Landmann, Bimba.
In Search of the Little Prince: The Story of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. 2014.
A lovely telling of Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s remarkable life as an adventurous, daring pilot and author. As a young boy, Antoine was fascinated by airplanes and the ability to fly, so he dedicated his life to becoming a pilot. From fighting in both world wars to transporting international mail to writing about his terrific adventures, Antoine lived his life to the absolute fullest.
[SSHEL S-Collection Q. SB. S137l]

Wallner, Alexandra.
Beatrix Potter. 1995.
From playing with her family’s pet rabbit, Peter, to becoming England’s self-professed expert on mushrooms, Beatrix surrounded herself with nature and loved to write about and paint her surroundings. As a woman in the late 19th to early 20th Century, however, Beatrix faced a lot of sexist critics who didn’t take her writing seriously. Beatrix was never deterred, however, and she went on to write dozens of delightful children’s stories that are still loved today.
[SSHEL S-Collection SB. P866w]