Radiant Child

Updated: Sep 17, 2020

Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat Written & illustrated Javaka Steptoe

Published in 2016, Winner of the Caldecott in 2017

AGES 4-8

Jean-Michel Basquiat changed the art in New York City and the world in the 1980’s with his collage paintings. Radiant Child by Javaka Steptoe beautifully captures Basquiat’s story and his “serious artist at work” ethic as a child up through adolescence and into adulthood reminding his audience that art does not have to be neat or clean with the possibility of being sloppy but also beautiful. His mother was an inspiration growing up and Basquiat learned the art could be created “from the messy patchwork of the city.”

Jean-Michel had his roots in his father playing jazz records and his mother’s cooking arroz con pollo, and he used the energy of the city within each of his drawings. As an adult he takes the vibrancy and energy from his surroundings and he starts to define himself as an artist, still reminding his audience that his art is not neat and clean, but beautiful.

A Bookish Decree: Steptoe tells Basquiat’s story with stunning art filled with panache.

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