February 24, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough | SLJ Review

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redstarMCCULLOUGH, Joy. Blood Water Paint. 304p. Dutton. Mar. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780735232112.

Gr 8 Up –Artemisia Gentileschi, 17-year-old daughter of a mediocre Renaissance painter, assists her choleric father Orazio in his studio, mixing colors but, moreso, trying to save face for him by finishing paintings that he is incapable of completing. Remembering the stories of strong biblical women which her now-deceased mother recounted to her—stories meant to strengthen her womanly resolve in a society that valued only men—Artemisia is determined to be the painter her father will never be; thus, when her father hires Agostino Tassi (Tino) to teach her perspective, she is thrilled to have someone who can help her achieve new artistic heights. As she paints Susanna and the Elders, her relationship with Tino changes, and he assaults her. She becomes determined to bring him to court in an effort to save her honor. Using free verse for Artemisia’s words and prose for her mother’s stories, McCullough’s beautifully crafted text will inspire upper-middle/high school readers to research the true story upon which this powerful piece of historical fiction is based. The poetry is clear and revelatory, exploring Artemisia’s passion for both art and life. The expression of her intense feelings is gripping and her complexity of character make her a force to be reckoned with, both in her times and in ours. VERDICT A thrilling portrait of a woman of character who refused to be dismissed; this belongs on every YA shelf.–Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, formerly at LaSalle Academy, Providence

This review was published in the School Library Journal January 2018 issue.

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