What a great book for transitional readers and beyond. The book opens with, "I am Noonie Norton, and I am a brilliant artist. The only problem is that I haven't been discovered yet. See, most brilliant artist aren't actually discovered until they're dead, so I thought I should explain my art while I am still alive." Right now Noonie is ten, so is A. Noonie began her artist career with a blue period. She created everything in blue, blue showed just how sad she was when her mother died. Then, her father was very sad, leaving Noonie with her aunt and uncle while he traveled far places for work. Then when she turns ten she decides to start her purple period of art, life was just going to be different.
Through out the book, Noonie is struggling with relationships. She struggles with having her Dad traveling, writing to him about a weird illness or two in hopes he will rush home. She struggles with accepting her peers for their differences and friendships, Reno and Sue Ellen. She struggles with seeing her family as one that is non traditional and learns to accept while embracing her aunt, uncle and cousin. The one relationship she doesn't struggle with is that with her art teacher, Ms. Lilly. Ms. Lilly is guiding and understands her need to create, be different, and her struggles in life. Art is successful for Noonie, school is not always. We have students in our room that need art to express their learning and themselves. We have Noonie's each year.
Ms. Lilly belongs on A Year of Reading's 100 Cool Teachers in Children's Literature. Ms. Lilly is insightful and wise. I love these two bits of advice she gives Noonie; "artist have the power to change the world" and "sometimes artist block is a good thing." Ms. Lilly is also instrumental in showing Noonie it's okay to carry around a mentor text, the Masterpiece, it's a collection of different artist Noonie refers to constantly while she thinks about her own art. Ms. Lilly guides Noonie at the end showing her how to accept her journey and life. My ARC copy illustrations are done in shades of black and white but I believe the published version, was due to be out in April is done in full color. The illustrations are doodle like and often made me chuckle because they brought the text to life. A great new find, if you ask me.