- Keith Haring: The Boy Who Just Kept Drawing by Kay A. Haring
ISBN 978-0-525-42819-0 $16.99
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 2-4
The black outline of a crawling figure haloed in spikes—Keith Haring’s untitled radiant baby—is an image nearly as recognizable as the beaming yellow smiley face. Probably few children know, however, that Baby and the gallery of cousin images now emblazoned on tee shirts are the work of an advocate and practitioner of public art, whose work included not only prints and paintings but also monumental murals that often involved community participation—even by kids. Kay Haring, Keith’s sister, offers an affectionate memoir of her now deceased brother, deftly attuned to both elementary schoolers and the picture book set. She recalls Keith meeting challenge after challenge to his work from people who couldn’t understand why he didn’t turn his skills to representational compositions and, most of all, why he didn’t monetize more of his creations as his success grew. Keith ignored it and “just kept drawing.” Neubecker’s digital and pencil art, based on “personal photos and fond memories of the downtown art scene of the 1980s,” are cheerily energetic, frequently replicating Haring’s own work. For kids who want to see the real thing, though, end matter includes captioned thumbnails of thirty pieces, helpfully referring to the size of the work. The author’s note also fills in details of the artist’s life and directs readers to haring.com and haringkids.com for additional information. Schools with “Picture Person” programs, as well as primary grades art teachers, will want to share this appealing title.