CM . . .
. Volume XIV Number 11 . . . . January 25, 2008
Rick Jacobson has enjoyed considerable success with the art history picture books, Picasso and The Mona Lisa Caper. With his new book, The Master’s Apprentice, Jacobson is sure to continue to develop his reputation for interesting art history books for young readers. The master referred to in the title is Michelangelo Buonarroti—the great artist who painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and who sculpted the masterpiece, David.
Jacobson has provided an interesting portrayal of Michelangelo. When the young apprentice, Marco, first laid eyes upon his new master, he saw that Michelangelo was “short and stocky, bearded and dirty, but his eyes were as sharp as his temper was said to be.”
As revealed in the book extract included above, Marco’s father has implored Marco to protect his family’s secrets. Despite Michelangelo’s insistence, Marco refuses to reveal the secret techniques Marco employs to mix such brilliant colours. “I am free to give you the color, but not the recipe,” Marco explains to his master. “I would guard your secrets as carefully, if you asked me to,” Marco assures Michelangelo. Marco’s reassurance is enough to win him favour with his master.
As is the case with many Tundra Books publications, the inside of the dust jacket cover contains a poster image worthy of display on a classroom or library wall. The book’s watercolour illustrations contain an interesting mix of subtle and gaudy colours. Jacobson and his wife, Laura Fernandez, collaborated on the illustrations, and their professional partnership works as well in this book as it did in Picasso and The Mona Lisa Caper. Of especial appeal are the detailed, patterned and textured clothing worn by the book’s characters. The grained wood of floors, tabletops and shelves is also especially well done. The wood lends an extra element of realism to the illustrations, reminding us that, despite his almost legendary status in the art world, Michelangelo was a real person.
The Master’s Apprentice is an enjoyable book. Readers will be interested to gain some insight into what it might have been like to serve as an apprentice to one of the most esteemed artists the world has known.
Gregory Bryan teaches in the Faculty of Education, the University of Manitoba, in Winnipeg, MB.
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