The story of Thomas Cole, considered the founder of American’s art movement, is told in the pages of Picturing America: Thomas Cole and the Birth of American Art by Hudson Talbott. While Hudson does touch on some of the highlights of Cole’s life (how he immigrated to America, his walking across Pennsylvania, traveling Europe) he mostly tells how the art came to be and how Cole was considered not only a great artist but how he was considered one of Americas first artists that was truly “an American artist.” The Hudson River school of painting came because of Cole and his love of nature, America and painting.
Hudson combines the art of Cole and his own illustrations to illustrate the story. This combination is unique and very pleasant. It breaks up they story and the art. However, neither are better or worse than the other and complement each other. I would have enjoyed learning more about the life of Cole, as I was unfamiliar with him, but being introduced to his artwork is a pleasant surprise. Very much in the style the Industrial Revolution and the wilds of America, Cole comes to life. While I do like abstract, I do prefer realism and the realistic paintings of Cole are ones that I do like.
While the description of this book says ages six to eight, I would be more likely to give this book to an adult. The text is longer, there is little action and most children I know would not sit and listen to this story. However, it would be a great addition to a classroom library so you can teach of Thomas Cole, the Hudson River school of painting or give to a child who likes art.