Dramatic tale of Picasso's life should become a classroom staple

JUST BEHAVE, PABLO PICASSO! By Jonah Winter. Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes. For ages 4-10. Arthur A. Levine Books. 48 pages. $17.99.

Picasso may have been the most famous artist of the 20th century, but what do kids know about him? And why should they care?

Jonah Winter retells the story of Pablo Picasso with dramatic flair. First, he makes Picasso a hero bursting through a serene landscape.

Then he explains Picasso's talent with his meteoric rise through art school to the top of the French art world. Galleries want more of his realist works.

Finally, Winter exposes us to the true genius. The one who dared to look at art from another perspective.

It didn't matter that Picasso enraged the entire French art world with his new style. He doesn't care that they call his work ugly. He sticks to his vision and believes in his talent.

Eventually the critics recognize Picasso as the most original artist of his time.

Winter laces Picasso's historical biography with drama and tension, which should help keep younger readers interested. Unfortunately, the story does seem to drag a bit.

Kevin Hawkes does an admirable job portraying Picasso and his works without being intimidated by the subject matter.

This is a great book for classroom story time and art lessons. No teacher should be without it.

McGeath Freeman reviews children's books for Lowcountry Parent magazine. To see previous reviews, go to www.lowcountryparent.com.