Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin

Bryant, Jen (Author)
Sweet, Melissa (Illustrator)
Penguin Random House 2013. 36 pages
First published: 2013
ISBN: 9780375867125 (hardcover)
9780449810149 (e-book)
Original language: English
Dewey: 759
Book type: Non-Fiction
Book genre: Biography

Text Elements:

character, structures and features

Award

Robert F. Sibert Honor Book – 2014

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

Artist Horace Pippin’s life is outlined gracefully in this picture book. From a hardworking but happy childhood, through fighting in France, to eventual recognition as an artist, the story subtly incorporates facets of U.S. history such as slavery and war. Horace processes it all through his art: “Make a picture for us, Horace!”

When a war wound prevents Horace from using his arm for painting, young readers may note how it also affects his ability to earn a living. As a black man in 1920s America, he’s only eligible for jobs that involve heavy labour: “‘How much can you lift?’ the hiring boss asked. And that was the end of that.”

The illustrations are a lush mix of collage, painting, drawing and lettering. One spread shows Horace, supporting his injured arm with the other arm, depicting his experiences of WWI. Pots carry black, grey and murky red paint. Hand lettering reads: “If a man knows nothing but hard times, he will paint them, for he must be true to himself,” while a brush begins a bold stroke across the facing page.

Children will be pleased when Horace’s pictures find general acclaim throughout America. Edifying notes by both author and illustrator are included.

  •  

    Brainstorm a list of adjectives that describe Horace Pippin.

  •  

    Study one of Horace’s paintings. What is the mood? What does it show about life back then? Write a review of the painting.

  •  

    Everyone asked Horace to draw, so why do you think no one wanted to buy his paintings? Research the cost of one of his paintings today. Would you buy one of his paintings if you could?

  •  

    Decide whether the story is fiction or non-fiction. How do you know? Discuss Horace’s technique as an artist (inspiration, style, colours, medium). What does the title of the book refer to?

  •  Make a timeline of the most important events in Horace Pippin’s life.
  •  

    Choose a medium that Horace used (charcoal, pencils, paint, house paint) and create your own piece of art. Ask a peer to critique your painting.

  •  

    Script an interview between a reporter and Horace after he became famous. Use the “Historical Note” and “Quotation Sources” at the end of the book to help you.

  • To construct his/her identity
  • To use creativity
  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Visual Arts