Books Early Readers Features Genre Lifespan of a Reader Middle Grade Non-fiction Wednesday Nonfiction Otherworldly Realms - Fantasia Picture Books Reading Themes

[Nonfiction Wednesday] Hearing, Touching, Living Art

"Sonia Delaunay: A Life of Color" by Cara Manes and Fatinha Ramos


Myra here.

We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book meme 2020 hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year, when we can.

Given our otherworldly theme, I thought it would be good to feature picturebook biographies of artists who perceive the world through mosaic-coloured lenses, just like Sonia Delaunay. Please see here for Fats’ review of this book in 2018.

Sonia Delaunay: A Life Of Color (Amazon | Book Depository)

Written by Cara Manes Illustrated by Fatinha Ramos
Published by Museum Of Modern Art (2017)
ISBN: 1633450244 (ISBN13: 9781633450240)
Borrowed from Zayed Central Library Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Book photos taken by me.

I am not familiar with Sonia Delaunay and I am grateful to this picturebook biography for introducing me to her unique style of depicting the world around her through colours that make music.

In the Afterword that includes a short description of Sonia Delaunay’s biography, this artistic style is referred to as Simultanism:

to express the idea that the bright, bold, contrasting colors of their compositions had a particular effect on each other when experienced at the same time.

In what I assume to be an imagined conversation in this story between Sonia Delaunay and her then-young son, she explained how colors can have sounds and how art is everywhere. It actually made me wonder whether Delaunay has synaesthesia which also allowed her to combine her senses together in a phenomenal and distinct way – especially since various artists [check out Kandinsky’s picturebook biography in The Noisy Paint Box by Barb Rosenstock and Mary Grandpre (Amazon | Book Depository)] have been discovered to experience this unique neurological condition.

What would have made this book work even better for me is if there was a detailed Afterword that explains how the imagined conversation was crafted by the author: whether this was culled from journal entries of Delaunay, interviews with her or her son, or any other archival information. It would have also been good if there was a list of references at the end for students or teachers or any interested reader to look up the information included in the story. While undoubtedly inspiring and the art work of Ramos exquisite, it lacked the textual rigour that I am looking for in an actual picturebook biography. Regardless, it is a good primer for Delaunay’s life that is definitely worth checking out.

#ReadIntl2020 Update: 10 of 30 (country): Portugal (Fatinha Ramos is originally from Portugal but lives in Antwerp)

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Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

1 comment on “[Nonfiction Wednesday] Hearing, Touching, Living Art

  1. lindabaie

    Interesting that there is no background information in the book. I had a student once with synaesthesia & he would have loved to have read this story. Thanks, Myra. The pages you shared are beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

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