Monday, February 04, 2013

Nonfiction Monday: The Long List: Face Book

I return to Nonfiction Monday!

As you may remember, I was a member of the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction this year. In December we announced our short list and last week we announced our winner (Bomb: The Race to Build--and Steal--the World's Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin.

BUT. In addition to the winner and the finalists, the committee also publishes a "long list" of vetted nominations. This year's long list is shorter than previous years-- that's because previously, the long list was official nominations, this year it's vetted, so the committee voted to see if we wanted to say a book was excellent or not. While this change makes for a shorter list, I'm personally very happy about it because I think it makes for a much STRONGER list. Before the list was "here are the books the committee seriously looked at." Now the list is "here are the books the committee seriously looked at that didn't make the top 5, but were still damn good."

So, for the next weeks, I'll be highlighting the titles on the long list, because while they didn't make the top 5 books of the year, they are still damn good.

Chuck Close: Face Book Chuck Close.

At first glance, this book looks a little young for an award geared 12+, but once you delve into it, you'll see that there's a lot here for older readers, too.

Close is a painter who only does portraits and self-portraits. While his style has changed over the years, he's mostly known for his works that are made up of small geometric shapes and colors that, when you step back, make a face. He said he got the idea from crochet, and how you can crochet up all these little motifs and then when you sew them together, BAM! blanket! Even more amazing for a guy who only does portraits, is that he suffers from a condition called face-blindness.

In addition to face blindness, he's in a wheelchair and can't hold a paint brush, due to a collapsed artery in his late 40s. He paints with a brush strapped to his arm and has giant canvases on a system that lifts and lowers them so he can reach.

The book itself is a series of questions and answers from a class visit to his studio (and this is where it skews young-- the class was in elementary school.) BUT, despite this, Close's journey and struggles with dyslexia as a child and a close examination of his many techniques and how he overcomes his current physical limitations so they don't limit him, will hold interest for a large age range.

Also, it's crammed full of images of Close's work with close-up details so readers can really see how the techniques are done and how they fit together. A super-fun part is a series of self-portraits cut into thirds, so readers can flip between and create new combinations (like those books where you get different strips for the heads, middles, and feet and can make crazy combos).

Today's Nonfiction Monday roundup is over at Apples with Many Seeds.

Book Provided by... the publisher, for award consideration.

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shelf-employed said...

Thanks for highlighting this one. I'll give it another look. To be truthful, I passed it over the first time I saw it.

alice@supratentorial said...

Thanks for reviewing this! It looks fantastic. I'm going to look for it at my library.

Andromeda Jazmon Sibley said...

This looks like a fascinating book. I need to find some images now, to see his work. Thanks for reviewing the long list for us!