Poop goes the easel! Darling little books sometimes catch my eye--and my ruinous fancy. An Artist looks to be a gift book, and as such it consists of little more than "the thought that counts."
It's a gift I accept.
M. B. Goffstein, its creator in 1980, was a painter and a Caldecott Medal-winning illustrator of children's books, and her books call for such words as "sweet" and "whimsical" and "wholesome."
"Beneath the delicacy and fragility is a core of astounding strength," said the Washington Post Book World.
Her earliest books came out in the 1970s--pint-sized and occupied by line-drawn figures who do the opposite of fill the page.
Her people are small and neat, and they tend to occupy the middle of the page, surrounded by a pastel landscape and sky. I can't imagine leaping with joy upon receiving this book, but I can imagine a certain sort of parent taking comfort from knowing it is on the shelf somewhere.
Publishing children's books is a competitive affair. Success comes at the forefront of a cutting edge. At a moment in history when kids were more likely reaching for a Gameboy than a booklet with a little old man on the cover, Goffstein seems to have opted for a moment of reflection on 2500 years of making. (The root of "art" is in Greek verb "to fit," as in "armor"--a shaping production.)
What is it to be an artist? Answer the question in 117 words, the total in this book, words of three syllables or less.
Six of those words must be "God."
A successful artist plumbs the marketplace, and the children's book marketplace has, since Goffstein's tidy tome, unloaded such competitors as Taro Gomi's Everyone Poops. That brought on Everybody Poos; Everybody Potties; Everybody Poops 410 Pounds Per Year; Poems of Poop; "Bloop, Bloop!" Goes the Poop; Where's the Poop?; It Hurts When I Poop!; Come Out, Mr. Poo!; How to Poop Every Day; Super Pooper; Everybody Poops in Their Pants; and Softy the Poop.
By the way, there are also books to defang the fart for everybody.
(Artsy fartsy = hard to picture.)
Poop was the thing, and so, invitably, there arose Celebrities Poop and other specimens of pre-school proctology.
One of those sad necessary books informs us that, in fact, Not Everyone Poops, due to digestive system disabilities. This one offers a cover illustration showing a bird's eye view of a toilet mid-flush, and the water is ONLY yellow. That one is for the phew.
But EVERYONE makes art.