Title: Painting in the Dark: Esref Armagan, Blind Artist
Author: Rachelle Burk
Illustrator: Claudia Gadotti
Publisher: TumbleHome Learning
Reviewer: Yolanda Ridge
This nonfiction picture book, aimed at 8 to 12 year-olds, introduces readers to Esref Armagan, a blind artist from Turkey. In typical biography style, author Rachelle Burk outlines Esref’s life chronologically, which is well laid out and researched. What makes this book special is the focus on how the artist developed his ability to paint things he’d never actually seen.
Accompanying the text are a few samples of Esref’s work, incorporated into vibrant illustrations by Claudia Gadotti. Unfortunately, some of the text, which changes color to stand out against the corresponding background, is often obscured by the illustrations.
This will not in any way prevent readers from being touched by Esref’s story. Reading about all the obstacles he faced in becoming an artist will inspired people of all ages, regardless of the type of limitations they must personally overcome. Artists in particular will enjoy learning how he continually improved his paintings by learning to add elements like shadow and perspective.
Making Painting in the Dark even more powerful is the fact that Esref Armagan is still alive and he is not world famous or rich. He has struggled and continues to persevere. I could not think of a better person to feature in a biography for young readers. Highly recommended for the school library.
Addendum: According to the publisher and author, the text issue has been addressed in a new printing of the book. Good News!