“There’s a fire in me, just like that torch.”
Devon visits the Metal Man at his fiery workshop every day, despite the scorching heat of the city where he lives. At the Metal Man’s shop, sparks fly from his welding torch as he cuts and melts together old pieces of junk into works of art. Devon is fascinated by Metal Man’s creations. Then one day, the Metal Man lets Devon put his own imagination to work.
Aaron Reynolds’s urban voice and the gritty illustrations of Paul Hoppe bring an exciting beat and pulse to the story of a young boy discovering his own voice and vision in art with a kind mentor to lead the way.
Look Inside the Book:
Author & Illustrator Bios:Aaron Reynolds, author
Aaron Reynolds is the author of numerous children’s books, including Tiger Moth: Insect Ninja (Stone Arch Books), Chicks and Salsa (Bloomsbury Children’s Books), and Tale of the Poisonous Yuck Bugs (Zonderkidz). He lives in Fox River Grove, Illinois.
Read more about Aaron.
Paul Hoppe, illustrator
Paul Hoppe is an award-winning illustrator and typographer whose illustrations regularly appear in The New York Times. Paul lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Read more about Paul.
Awards & Honors:
- Bank Street College of Education's Best Children's Books of the Year
- Bookbuilders of Boston New England Book Show Winner
- NCSS/CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People
It's a hot and sticky city summer day, and Devon knows that metal man Mitch is hard at work. Even though his mama thinks Mitch just makes junk (and needs a real job), Devon finds the acceptance he longs for in Mitch's workshop. "When I hang out with the metal man, I get it right./ I see what I see. / Not like school." Reynold's free-verse poem overflows with similies, and picture-book readers may find it difficult to follow along, but Hoppe's kinetic mixed-media illustrations have a raw grittiness that well represents the metal man's work. While the characters' faces, when flat or in profile, are not as strong, moments of intense action spring to life. In one image, the forced perspective dynamically captures the metal man as he leans into his work, the energy of the moment bursting forth from the page. Though the story is labored throughout, the succinct and meaningful ending finds Devon realizing that perhaps, underneath all the "crud," something shiny and ferocious lies.
School Library Journal
This unusual picture book is a tribute to a real metal sculptor, Mitch Levin, a friend of the author. Devon, a young African-American boy, loves to watch "Metal Man" create art out of junk in his city workshop. When he envisions a house in a shining star, the sculptor helps him to bring his idea into reality. Beautifully understated, the story is about the capacity of art to empower the artist and to affect how others see the world. The poetic text is visceral - readers experience the sounds, vibrations, textures, and heat of the metal shop. "Whatcha makin', Metal Man? I say./He don't answer. He never does./ Whaddya see?' That's all he says." The cartoon illustrations, in rusty browns and shiny blues, depict the metal man as tall, strong, gentle, and wise, a larger-than-life hero. He encourages Devon to embrace his own vision, but also protects him from the dangerous tools he is not ready to use. In the space of an afternoon, the youngster grows in understanding and confidence. A wonderful example of sensory writing and colloquial storytelling, this would be an excellent book to read before embarking on art projects, museum trips, art-appreciation lessons, or community-helper units, and will inspire independent readers with a desire to try their own hand at sculpture or artistic creation.
Midwest Book Review
Metal Man is a children's picture book told from the point of view of an African-American boy during the heat of summertime. The young boy befriends a welder who turns junk into the most amazing things! The vibrant drawings of award-winning artist Paul Hoppe practically burst off the page in this unabashed celebration of the joys of summer, family, and creating artworks through metal welding.
Devon's mother thinks Metal Man just makes "junk out of junk," but Devon sees things differently. He looks forward to visiting the man, who creates sculptures from scrap metal, and is fascinated by the noisy saw and the sparks flying hot white, orange, and blue. He likes to talk about the shapes he sees in the artist's sculptures, knowing that when he puts names to what they are, he's never wrong: "Not like school." Best of all is the sculpture he makes with Metal Man, proving to his mother that art isn't just paintings in a gallery and that there's more to Devon than she may have realized. Hoppe's palette is limited, but his muscular style, with boldly painted outlines and details, makes terrific use of perspective and pairs extremely well with the hip-hop lilt of Reynolds' language. The impressive, African American Metal Man is larger than life, and his young apprentice shows his growing excitement in every movement. An unusually masculine take on art that subtly marries themes of creativity and self-esteem.
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Page count: 32
8 1/2 x 11