Thursday, June 7, 2012

Picture Book: Just Behave, Pablo Picasso! (by Jonah Winter)

Summary of Just Behave, Pablo Picasso! (by Jonah Winter):
Pablo Picasso began painting around the turn of the 20th century. At that time, art was predictable.  Picasso bursted unto the scene with an original and new approach.   He had an amazing passion and brilliant gift for painting that prompted others, much older and experienced, to watch and to learn from him.  Though he began as a poor artist, he soon became widely popular and incredibly wealthy.  After being inspired by some African masks, Picasso went back to his studio where he painted something unlike anything he had ever done.  The unveiling was far from ideal.  People were shocked and dismayed.   Of course, he was hurt by their criticism because he was proud of his work.  Everyone encouraged him to keep painting the way that made him famous.  He told them, “To copy yourself is pathetic!”  After his next revolutionary painting, people continued their protests.   Critics claimed the work did not make sense. His response was, “The chief enemy of creativity is ‘good sense’!”  Picasso continued through the next several decades experimenting and inventing new styles, offering a new way to look at the world.  Today, he is one of the most famous and celebrated painters of the 20th century. 

Just Behave, Pablo Picasso! is an engaging introduction into the artist’s early life and works.  Author Jonah Winter depicts Picasso as an artist who defied conventions despite overwhelming criticism in order to be true to himself.  Also, Winter draws a parallel between Picasso’s unpredictable and innovative paintings and the fast-paced and ever-changing world he lived in.  Artists Kevin Hawkes’ vigorous illustrations are a blend of realistic art with some elements of Picasso’s work, such as exaggerated facial features and unexpected angles.  One of the most striking pictures is of a peaceful landscape scene with Picasso jumping out of it, reflecting well the theme of the book.  I recommend Just Behave, Pablo Picasso! for ages 7 and up. 

Teaching Opportunities:
  • Biography:  Research to find out more about Picasso’s life and write a short biography of his later years
  • History:  Explore the inventions and changes that were occurring in Picasso’s early life, such as cars, airplanes, telephones, and bombs
  • Art History:  Check out a book on Picasso’s work or find pictures on the Internet; and then, examine the various styles he depicts
  • Art Project:  Try one of several ideas that allow budding artists to experience Picasso’s style like the ones found at The Art Student
  • Technology:  Create a PicassoHead
  • Comparison:  Compare and contrast Picasso’s work with some of his contemporaries' works
  • Writing:  Write a description and critique of one of his paintings

 This post is linked up with Read Aloud Thursday at Hope is the Word and at Perfect Picture Book Friday.  


  1. I introduce my kindergarten students to "Mr Picasso" - this year we painted out own Mr Picasso heads and our own version of his Hands with Flowers. We talk about how he "did" art differently than other artists had made things before. This sounds like a good book for understanding artistic expression and change. I hope that some of my students will come across when they are a little bit older. thanks

  2. Thanks for sharing your experience teaching about this artist. It sounds like you have an amazing learning environment for your students. This book is really simple enough kindergarteners could understand it. You should check it out.

  3. I have read and used this lovely biography in artist themed weeks. :) Have you read "Pigasso meets Mootisse"? I really must add this to the PPPF.

  4. This book sounds awesome! I can't wait to share it with my friend who is an elementary art teacher. I am sure she will love it. The kids do paintings in the style of Picasso- so this should be a great tie in. :)


  5. I need to read this. I'm taking a design and color class right now and we're talking about a lot of artists. My son would like it too.

  6. What a fantastic book. I have a 5-year-old boy who is terrible at coloring in the lines, etc. I just tell him it's ok. Many famous artists "scribble-scrabble," as one of his friends teased him. We've talked about how artists get to be creative and do things their own way.

  7. I enjoy your post and have found them very informative and enlightening. In response to this post
    True empowerment is the ability to choose what you desire to do with your own picture. have a great day.
    Pablo Picasso


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