Monday, December 26, 2011

SELF-PORTRAIT WITH SEVEN FINGERS by J. Patrick Lewis and Jane Yolen

A look at the cover of this book pretty much captures it's essence.
1. SELF-PORTRAIT is a biography of artist Marc Chagall.
3. SELF-PORTRAIT is written in verse, but each page also contains a block of text detailing biographical information from that period of Chagall's life.
4. SELF-PORTRAIT is written by J. Patrick Lewis and Jane Yolen, two of the foremost authors in children's literature/poetry.
2. SELF-PORTRAIT is illustrated with Chagall's paintings, as well as an occasional photograph.

Need I say more? Probably not, but I will, a little anyway. SELF-PORTRAIT IN SEVEN FINGERS is one of those books where poetry, nonfiction, art, and photography are pretty much perfectly melded. Lewis and Yolen have taken a series of Chagall's paintings, and crafted 14 poems, each about a different period in the artist's life. Each two page spread includes the painting, a poem, and a block of text with biographical information about that chunk of Chagall's life. Many of the pages also include a glossary type definition of an unfamiliar Yiddish word. The finished product is rich and multi-textured and really fascinating. And yes, it would be perfect for an art class for any age student, from very young (ok, you would probably have to paraphrase a little with very young kids, but I really think they could get it). I'm also considering using it as the main mentor text for a multi-genre biography project with my fourth graders.

On a completely different note, and maybe just because I'm really nosy, I'm fascinated by the collaboration between J. Patrick Lewis and Jane Yolen. I would love to know how this project came about. What inspired the topic? Format? How did they decide on who what would write what? What was the actual process of writing the book like? Did they email back and forth every day? Or…??????? And I wonder if they have any more collaborations planned…


Linda B said...

This looks like an amazing book. I love them both, but especially all things Jane Yolen. Thanks for the sharing!

janeyolen said...

Gosh--thanks. And there are two more pat Lewis/Jane Yolen books coming out in 2012, very different from this one.

LAST LAUGHS: Animal Epitaphs, snarky, funny (we hope) and occasionally poignant. (From Charlesbridge)

TAKE TWO: twin poems (from Candlewick). Pat is a twin, I have twin brothhers-in-law, twin aunts, and twin granddaughters.

Jane Yolen

D.E. Malone said...

Jane Yolen just posted your link on FB. I'm so glad I saw it, and read your review! Thanks for sharing. It's now on my to-read list.

Carol said...

Thanks so much! I am always blown away when anyone, let alone someone like Jane Yolen, comments on something I write!

Tamara said...

I adore Marc Chagall...and Jane Yolen. Thanks for calling my attention to this book! You've also inspired me to think about how to make my upcoming research unit multi-genre; I hope I'll also be able to use this text.