Ghanaian sculptor El Anatsui said, "If you touch something, you leave a charge on it and anybody else touching it connects with you, in a way." Anatsui didn't physically touch Bottle Tops, but his work clearly charged author Alison Goldberg (I Love You for Miles and Miles) who in turn electrifies her audience with this inspiring biographical picture book. Accompanying Goldberg's stimulating narration are striking, dramatic illustrations from Elizabeth Zunon (Bedtime for Sweet Creatures; One Plastic Bag). Together, the creators produce an engrossing introduction to a monumental African artist.
Anatsui found deep meaning in an ordinary, discarded object: "With bottle tops, he had found a material close to hand that evoked his history and environment. They had a past, and could have new meaning too." Goldberg guides readers through Anatsui's career, showing his creative evolution, his "idea of including the memories of old objects in his art" and his desire to connect his pieces with the history of his people. The artist's passion for telling stories in sculpture is inspiring, and the charm of the book is enhanced by his quotes woven throughout. Zunon takes a similar approach to the illustrations that Anatsui takes to art: Anatsui stitched the parts of bottle tops together to make his sculptures portray texture and dimension. Zunon fittingly patches together paint and cut paper collage--thus developing the same artistic elements--to depict him and his incredible creations.
In the spirit of Anatsui's work, Goldberg includes an activity at the back of the book, a brilliant addition to enhance the experience of learning about art. From cover to cover, Bottle Tops is a sensational reading experience. --Jen Forbus, freelancer