Who is David Hockney? I had no idea before reading To See Clearly: A Portrait of David Hockney. Or at least, I might have known the paintings (this picture book shows Hockney’s style interpreted by the author/illustrator Evan Turk), but not the name. The story is straight forward. Turk says, “David did this, that and the other thing.” He we “here, there, and someplace else.” However, there are a few facts that are tossed out, sit down, and say, “Whatcha gunna do about it?” Such as, think this is the first time I heard (saw) and author write in a picture book, “He painted gay life.” In a mater of fact manner. There is no hinting at it, (the crush on a boy earlier in the book is still not “out,” but more of a wink wink) just boom. Here I am. And that was most refreshing. Of course, the fact that we learn about Hockney and his thought on art (even the fact he was so busy he couldn’t paint the Queen of England when she asked0, but the big picture is nice, too.
The tone of the book is serious, but there seemed to be a lightness to it as well. I would say this is mostly because the illustrations are colorful, popping about, the details are there, some times crowded, sometimes not so much. And overall, there is just a bright tone. Consider what Turk says about the subject, he was trying to imitate what Hockney was teaching.
I would recommend for classrooms studying art, GLBTQ people, or even a bit of history (we see a little about England and World War II). And it would work best for at least ages five and up, though the older readers/listeners might be turned off by the picture book format, but it could go as high as 10 or 11 years old. And while it might be harder to read in a group setting (it is longer) that would be my go-to reader, though of course, one-on-one could work, too.