The November issue of Booklist features books about the arts for children and adults. On their top ten list of arts books for youth are a handful of biographies (about the Wyeth family, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, potter George Ohr, and painter Vasily Kandinsky), three books about dance, and two YA novels (The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone and The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy, both of which I promptly added to my to-read list). Also Draw! by Raúl Colón (Simon and Schuster/Paula Wiseman), a wordless book inspired by the artist's own childhood, and long hours spent drawing in his family's New York City apartment.
Now I'm wondering (in the tradition of the What makes a good...? series at Horn Book): What makes a good arts book? Is it information, inspiration, or some combination of the two? How do the novels on the list fit the criteria? What about instructional arts books, like Susie Brooks's Get Into Art series from Kingfisher? And where, oh where is Emily's Blue Period by Cathleen Daly (illustrations by Lisa Brown; Neal Porter/Roaring Brook)? Or The Iridescence of Birds: A Book about Henri Matisse by Patricia Maclachlan (pictures by Hadley Hooper; also Roaring Brook)? They would be on my list (I'm working on it), but first I need to sort out my criteria--not to mention my definitions. What is an arts book anyway? Something to think about.