Monday, October 10, 2011

The Boy Who Bit Picasso

Ouch! Antony Penrose, the author of this kid-friendly memoir, is the boy in question, and he did indeed bite the world-famous artist in the middle of a playful romp. Picasso, not one to be outdone, bit him back, announcing that he was the first Englishman he'd ever bitten. What an honor!

This delightful book provides an intimate look at the unlikely friendship between a small boy and the one of the greatest artists of all times. Penrose writes conversationally to his young audience and lets them in on what it was like to know Picasso. Penrose, the child of Lee Miller, a photographer and renowned beauty, and Roland Penrose, an artist and writer, grew up on Farley Farm in East Sussex, England. Picasso, friends with both his parents, visited them at the farm. The Penrose family returned the favor and travelled to the south of France to stay with Picasso.    

Penrose shows readers a kid's-eye view of Picasso, describing his love of animals (his goat Esmeralda was allowed inside his home), his playfulness, and his love of disguises. Throughout, Picasso's art shines. We see how he constantly created art out of whatever was at hand, turning broken bits of pots into sculpture and using a discarded toy car as a monkey's face. The message--that creating art is a joyful act, one that is natural and accessible to anyone willing to think outside the box--comes through loud and clear. The book is lavishly illustrated with photos of Picasso, his family and friends, his studio, and most of all his amazing body of work. Young readers will want to revisit this book again and again. I know I do!

This portrait of Lee Miller, Antony Penrose's mother, was painted by Picasso in 1937.
The Boy Who Bit Picasso
by Antony Penrose
Abrams Books for Young Readers, 48 pages
Published: 2011

Nonfiction Monday is at Practically Paradise today.


  1. Nice. This isn't the first time I've read a review of the book, and it does sound enticing. And one perfect picture book to introduce the concept of creativity as well to children. I'd look this one up in our libraries. Thanks!

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