As my son began second grade this year, I decided to start artist studies with him. Jack has been visiting museums his entire life, and he’s been exposed to a wide variety of artistic techniques. He likes to look at art and create his own, but my dilemma has been how to make long-dead artists come alive in our home.
The Boy Who Bit Picasso does a fabulous job of bringing Pablo Picasso into a young boy’s home–literally. Antony Penrose grew up with Picasso as a frequent visitor to the farm he shared with his artist parents. Now in his 60s, Penrose recounts his personal experiences with the legendary artist, from a trip to his studio in France to the time he bit Picasso–and Picasso promptly bit him back.
Because the book is created from little Antony’s memories, it easily and quickly draws young readers in. Instead of recounting dry facts about Picasso, this is a memoir packed with all kinds of information a child would find interesting. Are you really going to meet Esmeralda, the goat who slept outside Picasso’s bedroom, in your average biography? Probably not, but you’ll read about her here! Important facts are woven into the anecdotes and memories and related to the stories.
The Boy Who Bit Picasso is great fun to look at, too. Jack particularly enjoyed the many photographs, most of which were taken by the author’s mother, the famous photographer Lee Miller. Picasso’s artwork is also shown, including sculptures, sketches, and even a drawing made for Penrose himself when he was having a difficult time at school. Jack went back to the book several times after we finished reading it just to look at the pictures.
After reading The Boy Who Bit Picasso, I found Pablo Picasso to be less of a famous artist and more of an interesting person. Antony Penrose takes a larger-than-life figure and makes him knowable, even for children. This book was an invaluable addition to our Picasso study. It’s too bad we’ll never know if any kids pestered Monet or Michelangelo!