The ego of an artist is famously swinish, but in Nina Laden’s rollicking art-inspired story, swinish takes on a whole new meaning. With the introduction of barnyard versions of Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso, Laden pokes fun at pretension (Serial philanderer Pablo Picasso as a pig? Yes please!).
This surprisingly heartwarming story tells the tale of friends-turned-foes-turned-friends Pigasso and Mootisse. As is to be expected in any Laden book, it is overwrought with punny asides (which do you prefer: pork of art or moosterpiece?). Still, it retains a meaningful core message: that those with the most beautiful, creative minds are often plagued by doubt and insecurity, which inspires the thick outer shell and swinish ego of many an illustrious artist.
Laden is at home in the world of art, growing up the daughter of two artists and receiving a BFA in illustration from Syracuse. Her books are often informed by art and culture, and offer children an accessible entry into their own potential passions.
This book lays the foundation for a lifelong fascination with not just art, but also the complicated and compelling artists behind it. Laden’s complimentary illustration styles, leaning on Picasso and Matisse alternately, help to familiarize your child with their work, and the small biography section in the back contributes more context and answers any questions your young ones may have about the real artists.
At the center of this wildly entertaining story is a deep understanding of the artist’s condition. Pigcasso and Mootisse only begin fighting because they allow well-intentioned criticism to supersede a fruitful friendship. But isn’t that the tragedy of the artist? When you pour your whole soul into something, it’s difficult to find any objectivity, or to allow any vulnerability on the other side. Thankfully, Laden paints a fanciful and inspiring portrait of the beauty that can be achieved when ego is stowed and heart wins out.