Toronto Book Review



Leo Politi’s whimsical and heartfelt illustrations have captivated readers for generations, but who was the man behind the enchanting artwork? In “Leo Politi, Artist of the Angels,” Ann Stalcup offers readers a deeply moving biography that paints a vivid picture of the Caldecott-winning author and artist, celebrating his profound contributions to children’s literature and multicultural representation.

Ann Stalcup, an accomplished author of fifteen children’s books and numerous magazine articles, is known for weaving her extensive travel experiences into her storytelling. Her previous works, such as “On the Home Front” and “Three Who Survived,” highlight her ability to bring history and personal experiences to life. In “Leo Politi, Artist of the Angels,” Stalcup once again demonstrates her exceptional narrative skill, providing a sensitive and heartwarming portrayal of Politi that resonates with both adults and children alike.

The biography delves into Politi’s early life, starting with his birth in Fresno, California, in 1908 to Italian immigrant parents. It recounts his family’s journey back to Italy, the subsequent separation of his parents, and the hardships that followed. Despite these challenges, Politi’s passion for art, history, nature, and children flourished, driving him to create works that transcend time and speak to the child in all of us. His dedication to illustrating and writing about the multicultural families of Southern California set him apart as a visionary, far ahead of his time.

Stalcup’s meticulous research is evident in the detailed “back matter” that enriches the narrative, offering readers a comprehensive view of Politi’s life and legacy. Her portrayal of Politi’s journey—from the quiet town of Fresno to the bustling streets of New York City and across the Atlantic Ocean—is as vibrant and engaging as Politi’s own illustrations. The book vividly captures the essence of Politi’s work, emphasizing his love for the customs and cultures that inspired him.

Particularly notable is Stalcup’s description of Politi’s “little angels” and his first fictional child, Little Pancho, who appeared in his debut book, “Little Pancho.” These characters exemplify Politi’s unique ability to blend storytelling with rich, colorful illustrations that continue to engage and delight young readers.

In “Leo Politi, Artist of the Angels,” Ann Stalcup has crafted more than just a biography; she has created a touching tribute that honors Politi’s legacy and enduring impact on children’s literature. This book is a must-read for anyone who appreciates the power of art and storytelling to bridge cultural divides and celebrate diversity.

For those who cherish the whimsical charm of Politi’s illustrations and the heartfelt stories he created, Stalcup’s biography is an essential addition to your collection. “Leo Politi, Artist of the Angels” is not only a testament to Politi’s life and work but also a reminder of the timeless joy that his art continues to bring to readers of all ages. Don’t miss out on this beautifully crafted homage to one of the most beloved children’s authors and artists—pick up your copy today and rediscover thae magic of Leo Politi.

Purchase the Book Today on Amazon.

Rating: 5/5 Stars
Reviewer: Olivia Weston
Date of Review: July 06, 2024

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