A Life Made by Hand: The Story of Ruth Asawa

Princeton Architectural. Sept. 2019. 40p. further reading. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781616898366.
K-Gr 3–In this picture book, author and illustrator D’Aquino tells the story of how Ruth Asawa became an artist. Raised in California, Asawa, along with her family, worked on a farm. Asawa was interested in nature and very good with her hands. She explored the shapes she observed in nature and began to re-create them out of wire and paper. On the weekends, Asawa attended Japanese school, where she learned calligraphy. She went to Black Mountain College and later traveled to Mexico, where she learned to weave wire into baskets from a local craftsman. Asawa began weaving and never stopped, creating amazing structures that can be found in museums today. D’Aquino’s illustrations utilize charcoal, colored pencil, and collage with beautiful muted colors and whimsical designs. D’Aquino focuses on Asawa as an artist, but an author’s note discusses Asawa’s time in Japanese internment camps in the 1940s. The narrative focuses on Asawa’s voyage as an artist at the family’s bequest. Resources with more information are appended. D’Aquino also includes illustrated instructions on how to create a paper dragonfly, a great activity for storytime.
VERDICT Recommended for primary school libraries and children’s collections in public libraries. Also recommended for libraries with art collections.

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