The much-lauded illustrator and artist Javaka Steptoe recently added to his many honors in children’s literature when he became the recipient of the Randolph Caldecott Medal, given to “the most distinguished American picture book for children” by the American Library Association.
These days, the late Basquiat’s work is iconic. However, Steptoe presents the story of a young Jean-Michel, a boy who drew artistic inspiration from everything around him: “in poetry books and museums, in games and in the words that we speak, and in the pulsing energy of New York City.” And, since it’s a book for children, Steptoe wisely downplays any sense of tragedy around Basquiat’s life and instead honors his brilliance.
The book is also fascinating because of Steptoe’s images. As he notes in the video below, he painted on wood he found throughout New York City. This is very much in keeping with Basquiat’s street art aesthetic.