Learning about Picasso from Picture Books


My 8 year old has recently gotten into art. She is starting to have more faith in her abilities and seems to be enjoying the process more than she used to. Last weekend I signed her up for a local art class that was focusing on Pablo Picasso’s Cubist period while creating dogs in his style. I was amazed at the work that they did with such a complicated style. J thought hers didn’t come out well, but I explained how unusual Picasso was and showed her some of his work. We also had a few books about him, so I let her explore some on her own. She’s decided that she is not a fan of his Cubist period, but is opening her mind to the broader world of art.

J Picasso dogs

book_pigasso_mootisse_zoomOne book that was given to us years ago is the book When Pigasso Met Mootisse. In an incredibly creative manner, this book tells a somewhat fictionalized version of the friendship between Picasso and Matisse. While the two were never neighbors, they were friends. Unfortunately, they also were in a bit of competition in the art world at the same time and said some means things to each other. What is outstanding about this book is the art and how it showcases both artists and their different styles. Picasso’s sharp angles next to Matisse’s soft, realistic paintings highlights how two artists can view the same thing in completely different ways.pigasso inside

picasso lepsckyI also knew that somewhere in the house we had a biography on Picasso. Written in 1984, the picture book biography by Ibi Lepscky focuses on Picasso’s youth. He was moody and liked to collect things. His mother, in particular, didn’t understand him and was frustrated by the messes that he often made. His father was not often around, as he himself was an artist and spent all of his free time painting. When his mother felt like she could no longer handle him on her own, she got his father involved and he realized that Picasso had an amazing artistic talent. While a simplistic telling of his younger years, it is interesting to see how misunderstood Picasso was as a child and how important it was to have someone finally see his potential.

greatest artist picasso coverOf course looking at these books and encouraging J to understand Picasso more also made me curious about a book series I had seen at her school library. They have a series of books called Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists. When I was volunteering on Monday I checked out the Picasso book. If you are looking for a great way to teach kids about artists, this is it! With a mix of photographs, art samples, and illustrations, kids can really get a sense of the artist. Picasso was an artist who tried many different styles based on where he was in his life and this book does a great job of explaining his different “periods.” The pages on Cubism were great for J to see and understand, but the whole book itself is quite impressive.
picasso cubism

We are really excited that J is getting more interested in art (it has always been E’s passion). While the closest art museum is unfortunately over an hour away, we are definitely going to have to start going so that both of our girls can get exposed to all of the amazing art that is out there.

This post is part of my challenge to post weekly about a non-fiction picture book through a link-up at Kid Lit Frenzy. Check out all of the amazing posts that get updated weekly.



  1. I love your daughter’s art, a fabulous job of imitating Picasso. It’s great that she is interested in art, & the books you shared will expand her knowledge, too.

    1. Thanks Kellee! I grew up in a Los Angeles where I had easy access to all sorts of museums and went to them often as field trips in school and summer camp, let alone going with my family. Not having that as an option you really have to find ways to educate them and these picture books are great!

  2. So fun! Do you know about the book The Boy Who Bit Picasso? I like that one too. It shows many of his works, but also shows him as a regular man not just an artist who is bigger than life.

    1. I don’t know about that one. A quick Amazon search also showed a neat looking one called “Picasso and the Girl with the Ponytail.” It is important to see how they were real people, not just larger than life artists. Thanks!

    1. Someone else recommended that to me as well. I will definitely have to check it out. We are enjoying reading about a wide variety of artists right now.

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