Search for Books Home New Books Author Visits Downloadables Awards Classroom Materials
Shopping Cart
No
View Cart
Magic Trash
Magic Trash
By author: J. H. Shapiro   Illustrated by: Vanessa Brantley-Newton   Photographs by: Tyree Guyton
Product Code: 
Binding Information: Hardback 
6  - 9
In Stock
Price: $15.95
Shop A Local Bookstore

Vacant lots. Abandoned houses. Trash--lots of trash. Heidelberg Street was in trouble!

Tyree Guyton loved his childhood home--that's where his grandpa Sam taught him to "paint the world." So he wanted to wake people up... to make them see Detroit's crumbling communities.

Paintbrush in hand, Tyree cast his artistic spell, transforming everday junk into magic trash. Soon local kids and families joined Tyree in rebuilding their neighborhood, discovering the healing power of art along the way.

This picture book biography of Tyree Guyton, an urban environmental artist, shows how he transformed his decaying, crime-ridden neighborhood into the Heidelberg Project, an interactive sculpture park. The story spans from Tyree's childhood in 1950s Detroit to his early efforts to heal his community through art in the 1980s. Tyree's awards include Michigan Artist of the Year and International Artist.

Magic Trash offers strong themes of working together, the power of art, and the importance of inspiring community--especially kids--to affect action. The Heidelberg Project is internationally recognized for providing arts education to children and adults and for the ongoing development of several houses on Heidelberg Street. Not only does the Heidelberg Project prove that when a community works together it can rebuild itself, but it also addresses the issues of recycling, environmentalism, and community on a global level.

This book is good for your brain because:
Biography, Environmentalism, Art Appreciation, Community

50% of the author's proceeds are being donated to the Heidelberg Project.

Download the cover image.

Also Available As:
Binding Information: Paperback 
ISBN: 978-1-58089-386-2
Availability: In Stock
Price: $7.95

  Pat Keogh - July 28, 2011
I love the new book, Magic Trash. The story is fascinating and the art really brings it to life.
  Publishers Weekly - July 25, 2011
When Tyree Guyton was a child in Detroit, he learned to reuse items that others threw away, which became a passion for transforming trash into art. After witnessing his neighborhood split apart by rioting, serving as a soldier, and enrolling in art school, Guyton returns to dilapidated Heidelberg Street. Shapiro richly describes the activism behind much of Guyton's work: "When trouble still sizzled in one discarded home, Tyree coated it in dots and squares of pink, blue, yellow, and purple, then perched a magenta watchdog on the porch." Brantley-Newton's vivid compositions, which incorporate paint, newsprint, and photo-collage, honor an artist who created the world he wanted to live in.
  Veg Books - August 26, 2011
Pairing rhythmic, sometimes-rhyming prose with expressive illustration, the forthcoming book Magic Trash: A Story of Tyree Guyton and His Art tells the uplifting story of the Detroit native who saved his neighborhood by creating art out of trash. Beginning by recounting that Guyton made toys for himself and his siblings out of trash as a child, this biography hits many of the milestones in his life, including the passing of his grandfather, who first put a paint brush in his hands and inspired him to become an artist, and his protracted battle with the city to preserve his art on Heidelberg Street, which culminated in a court ruling in his favor.

Parents should be aware that this book touches on important social issues, including poverty, drug-dealing, and the 1967 Detroit riot. Like Guyton himself, author J.H. Shapiro tends to focus on the positive, accentuating how Guyton and his neighbors reclaimed their neighborhood, evicting troublemakers by painting abandoned houses and posting a "magenta guard dog" on a porch.

The author’s note includes photos of Guyton and his neighborhood, as well as a link to the Heidelberg Project.

  Kirkus Reviews - August 31, 2011
Multi-colored, multi-layered, multi-media illustrations trace the life of Tyree Guyton and his visionary artwork, which used reclaimed trash to turn a derelict Detroit street into community-activist art.

Tyree's magic-his ability to find whimsy, brightness and joy in junk-make him both an endearing and an unusual person to young readers fixated on shiny products hermetically sealed in plastic. Buttons, Popsicle sticks, crayons, broken wheels and bottle caps bounce around pages, conjuring Tyree's excitement as he makes his own funky toys as a child and, later, trash artwork as an adult. Warm, comedic renderings of neighbors and family (particularly Grandpa Sam), offset somewhat jarring multi-media elements: creepy, dirty stuffed animals, slapdash patches of newsprint, random-feeling rounds of fabric. But when Tyree's childhood street becomes his art, these compositional choices make more sense. On Heidelberg Street, neon vacuum cleaners line lawns, houses pulsate with polka-dots and doll-babies hang from telephone wires, bringing a similar discomfort and disorientation-and making shady characters flee. When a judge stops bulldozers from destroying Heidelberg Street, declaring it a work of art, a victory dance seems in order. Readers whiz through Tyree's story, propelled by his energy and zinging, trippy triplets that cap each significant event in his life. "Let rockets fly! / Boards tower high. / Bounce, jump and dance, magic trash!"

An inspiring, exciting introduction to avant-garde art and social commentary, this biography convinces young readers that art can exist, thrive and effect change outside in the real world.

  Daily Kos - September 4, 2011
Internationally acclaimed artist Tyree Guyton grew up on Heidelberg Street in Detroit, Michigan. When he was a boy he collected bits and pieces—trash—to create his own fun. Eventually Tyree left Heidelberg Street to find his way in the world, but his mind often traveled back home. When he did return, hard times had fallen on his neighborhood: homes were abandoned, trash was everywhere, and troublemakers haunted the street. Tyree re-imagined his decaying neighborhood, and with the help of his grandpa Sam, who had encouraged him to paint the world, Tyree set to fixing up the mess. He created sculpture out of the trash that littered the neighborhood, painted the dilapidated houses with color and design, and changed the world on Heidelberg Street.

Vanessa Brantley-Newton’s mixed media collage art is a fitting tribute to the beauty of Tyree Guyton’s vision that anything can become a beautiful thing when used for a purpose.

  NC Teacher Stuff - September 13, 2011
Can art change the world? Or is it merely for our appreciation and enjoyment? This is a good question to ask students. In the case of Tyree Guyton, art transformed his life and the life of Heidelberg Street in Detroit, Michigan. Young Tyree collects junk and makes it into toys. One day his house painter grandfather puts a paint brush in his hand and tells him to "paint the world." He leaves Heidelberg Street at age sixteen to find his way. After turns as a soldier, a worker on an assembly line, and a firefighter, Tyree enrolls in art school to fulfill his childhood dream to be an artist. Unfortunately, when he returns home he finds that his street has changed. Trash and troublemakers have taken over. Tyree decides to take back his neighborhood one stroke at a time. With the help of Grandpa Sam, he begins painting and creating art out of the junk that is there. A small group of neighbors and the city are skeptical and bulldozers lay waste to Tyree's work. After the passing of his grandfather, Tyree once again works to renew his community. This time, his neighbors work with him and a court allows the art work to stand. This year, the Heidelberg Project celebrated its 25th anniversary.

Magic Trash is an uplifting story of a person who makes a difference in his neighborhood. J.H. Shapiro's story could be used for several purposes in a classroom. If you are teaching students how to use quotations in their writing, Magic Trash has several examples that can serve as a model. I really like how she weaves lines of poetry into the narrative. These three line sections act as a Greek chorus summarizing the action in the story. It would be an intriguing exercise to follow her example and ask student writers to write three line summaries in sections of books that they are reading. I don't always comment on the illustrations in a book, but I would be negligent if I didn't mention Vanessa Brantley-Newton's dynamic mixed media collages. I won't be surprised if Magic Trash garners some awards for illustration at the end of the year. When you are teaching biographies, this book would be an inspired choice to show children how one person can change their surroundings.

  Detroit Free Press - October 7, 2011
Detroit artist Tyree Guyton's story has been told many ways in the past.

Now, the Heidelberg Project creator is getting the children's book treatment.

Magic Trash: A Story of Tyree Guyton and His Art was released this month.

Written by J.H. Shapiro and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton, Magic Trash is geared toward readers ages 6-9.

The picture book biography shows how Guyton transformed his decaying, crime-ridden Detroit neighborhood into the Heidelberg Project, an interactive sculpture park.

  WCMU Children's Bookshelf - August 31, 2011
Magic Trash: The Story of Tyree Guyton and His Art, is an insightful look into the life of Michigan artist, Tyree Guyton. Written by J.H. Shapiro and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton, this story captures the importance of what one person can do to make a difference.

Readers are introduced to Tyree Guyton, a young boy who lived on the East Side of Detroit in a home bursting with children. Tyree was a natural collector of junk and he routinely brought home the broken toys that others threw away and transformed them into his own imaginary playthings-his own "magic trash.". One day, Tyree's grandfather gave him some house paint and a brush and told him to "paint the world" and Tyree began to explore the wonders of color. At the age of 12, however, Tyree watched as his neighborhood exploded into a mass of flames as the Detroit riots consumed the buildings and at the age of 16, Tyree left Heidelberg street to begin a new life. He became a soldier, but he never forgot his grandfather's challenge to "paint the world." He attended art school and when he returned to Heidelberg Street, he found that his neighborhood was a place of deserted houses, piles of trash, and frightening hoodlums who hung out in the empty shells of houses. Angry at what his neighborhood had become, Tyree grabbed a brush and paint and began to paint everything in sight-deserted buildings, buses, discarded suitcases, tires, and bikes.

At one point, he painted a deserted house with polka dots of all colors and the thieves inside ran away. Soon the neighborhood was full of colors, but some disapproved and one day bulldozers came and crushed everything, leaving nothing but destruction is its wake. Tyree stood alone, and when he picked up his paintbrush to begin again, the neighbors joined him to create new neighborhood of "magic trash." Then, after eight years of painting and rebuilding, the bulldozers came again, but this time, the neighborhood was able to argue that Heidelberg Street was not a place of junk; it was a place of art. Now, some 25 years later, Heidelberg Street is a famous destination for art and people travel from around the world to Detroit to see the work of Tyree Guyton and his "Magic Trash."

This story is one that will teach the importance of following one's dream and what a difference that commitment can make to those around us. Vanessa Brantley-Newton has created illustrations that provide a sense of expressive detail to the life and work of Tyree Guyton.

  School Library Journal - November 1, 2011
Guyton grew up poor on Detroit's East Side. After stints in the military, in the auto industry, and as a firefighter, he attended art school. Returning home, he found his neighborhood dotted with vacant houses, full of trash, and infested with "troublemakers." Vowing to do something to save it, he and his grandfather began painting rubbish in bright colors; painting bold, primitive faces on windows; and decorating the trees. Although the city government sought to destroy this uncommissioned community art, the neighbors rallied, and it was allowed to stand. Eventually, many houses on the street were painted with large, cheerful dots, and the neighborhood became internationally known. Replete with vivid action words, onomatopoeia, and singsong rhythmic interludes, the text creates a sense of urgency and exhilaration. However, it is the artwork that is the truly outstanding element of this book. Brantley-Newton captures the exuberant nature of Guyton's work while incorporating his use of dots and circles, cast-off objects, and painterly brushstrokes. Glowing pigments appear rubbed into canvas surfaces to create backgrounds for the cartoonlike yet sensitive drawings of Guyton, his family, and his neighbors. Crayon drawings, gouache highlights, and charming collage tidbits ensure that each page is full of life.
  Bayviews - November 1, 2011
Growing up on Detroit’s rough Heidelberg Street in the 1950s, Tyree Guyton was always attracted to two things: trash and painting. Throughout his youth, Tyree combined the two into his own brand of art, guided by his loving grandfather. After a stint in the army and as a firefighter, Tyree returns to his old street and finds it in serious disarray as the community is plagued by rioting and vandalism. Tyree began turning vacant homes into art, utilizing the rubbish that lined the street. When city officials threatened to bulldoze his work, community members and a judge ruled in favor of preserving Tyree’s work, which is the now world-renowned Heidelberg Project. Shapiro’s writing is electric with rhythmic text and rhyming flourishes that perfectly complement the raw energy of Tyree’s art: “Old houses talk./ Some neighbors squawk./ Crash, bash, and smash magic trash.” Brantley-Newton’s illustrations are a clever mix of cartoonish renderings, lifelike portraits, and mixed-media collage, mirroring the multimedia approach Guyton utilized in his work. This uplifting work is sure to inspire young artists, particularly those who are growing up in similarly gritty urban landscapes.
  Booklist - November 1, 2011
Encouraged by his artist grandfather, a young boy growing up in Detroit finds inspiration when he collects discarded refuse and reimagines it as art. Tyree Guyton sees raw materials when the other children on Heidelberg Street see garbage, and he uses those materials to forge beauty from next to nothing. As a teen, Tyree moves away, but after returning to Detroit as an adult, he converts Heidelberg Street into a public art installation, polka-dotting abandoned houses, suspending shoes from tree limbs, and decorating telephone poles with broken dolls. In telling this true story, Shapiro punctuates her zippy, buoyant narrative with rhyming refrains distinguished by larger, looping typography. Brantley-Newton references Guyton's found-object installations with her own warm, mixed-media collages, embellishing her hand-drawn figures and evocative settings with photographic scraps of buttons and bears, toasters and trains. This engaging picture-book biography delights as an affectionate portrait of a transformative artist and inspires as a call to find and make beauty wherever we are.
  Library Media Connection - March 30, 2012
This unique picture book manages to pack in a number of inspiring themes such as following your dreams, fighting for what you believe in, and transforming the trash, debris, and deterioration of a city into something beautiful. The author briefly chronicles the life story of artist Tyree Guyton and his Heidelberg community art project in Detroit with the varying moods that reflect the diverse circumstances of the story. Combined with the distinctiveness of the mixed media artwork, the events and characters involved will stay on the mind of the reader long after they've put the book down.
  School Librarian's Workshop - December 6, 2011
Art changes the way we see and hear the world and for this we must thank the artists. While Spotlighting Fiction features books about talents, it’s also important to see how real people made a difference with their art. By pairing fiction, biography, and how-to books students in the earliest grades can discover the magic of the arts and let their own imaginations loose. J. H. Shapiro shows the transformative power of one man with a vision in Magic Trash: A Story of Tyree Guyton and His Art . Growing up poor in Detroit, young Tyree scrounged his neighborhood, using the junk he found to make his toys. Encouraged by his house painter grandfather, he kept painting even as his neighborhood changed and rioters burned buildings. As he grew older, he became a soldier, a factory worker, and a firefighter, but also enrolled in art school. Returning to his home base he saw how it deteriorated. Painting the abandoned houses in dots and squares of bright colors, he drove the drug dealers out. The city bulldozed it as trash but his neighbors helped him rebuild and do more. Once again the city tired to wreck it but this time the courts ruled it was art. Today the Heidelberg Project has celebrated its 25th anniversary
Magic Trash is a great inspiring book to use in an art room! This book has it all: an inspired boy nobody understands, a teenager who moved away from home to pursue a better life, a man who worked many different jobs before pursuing his dream of becoming an artist, and finally a man who returned home to fight for his art and his neighborhood. Tyree's life story is too good to have been made up. The expressive illustrations are combined with beautiful and unique collages which further the story better than any traditional media could have. This book could be use to introduce thinking about multimedia works, non-traditional works, fighting against adversity, self-image, or even African American artists.