Author: Julie Chibbaro, Jean-Marc Superville Sovak (Illustrations)
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers, 352 Pages (August 18th, 2015)
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Synopsis: 17-year old Ror comes from the boonies and is tough as nails and all she really cares about is drawing and painting and making art. She ends up in the ghetto that was Manhattan in 1984, where she discovers that the walls, the subways, the bridges are covered with art. Before long, she runs into trouble with Trey, the ultimate bad boy and president of Noise Ink, a graffiti crew she desperately wants to join at all costs.
When Ror falls in love with Trey, she realizes she’ll do just about anything to get up in the scene. She has some decisions to make: she wants to be a street artist but she doesn’t want get shot by the cops; she wants her stuff in the museum but she doesn’t want to die waiting to become famous; she wants to makes money selling her work in a gallery but she doesn’t want to be a puppet at the mercy of a dealer. The book follows her descent into a dangerous world, where her drawings are her only salvation.
Ror’s journey is a seamless blend of words and pictures, cinematic in its scope - a sharp-edged, indelible creation that will live inside your head.
"[T]his striking combination of story and illustration creates a powerful portrait of a budding artist." Publishers Weekly starred review
Visual Art vs. the Art of the Written Word – Julie Chibbaro
When Lisa suggested that I write about Visual Art vs. the Art of the Written Word, I jumped at the chance, mostly because that “vs.” in the title implies a fight – one thing against another, Mayweather vs. Pacquiao – and most writers love a good wrangle.
The idea appealed, also, because my book, no, our book, is a mix of art and writing. I say ours because JM, the artist who created the drawings and paintings for Into the Dangerous World, is my husband, and, well, let’s just say one can’t easily work with their husband without a fight, or two, or three. I won’t get into details, but if you’ve ever disagreed with someone you love about the merits of something you’ve produced, you will understand how our passions sometimes ran high.
But let’s go back to the original topic. While writing this book, these two forms of art were on my mind often. This was because our main character, Ror, communicates largely through drawings. She’s not a talker; in fact, she thinks in a very visual way, witha certain “synethesia,”a mental perception of the world wherein colors taste like flavors, or sound like music, to her. For instance, when she first enters her art classroom, this is how she sees it: “There were jars and jars of paints—red like strawberries, blue like lollipops that leave a stain on your mouth, green as a field of mint, yellow like lemons, purple as grapes broken off the vine, spheres fresh and wet in your hand.”
Every day that I sat down to think about Ror, often, visions entered my head: I could see what she saw – the city, and the art on the walls, in a new and beautiful way. I could feel her, but unlike my other characters, I had a much harder time translating her thoughts, because of that intense way she visualized the world.
After a while, I realized that I needed to capture and interpret her visions by communicating them as best I could to JM. I wrote notes, and together, we worked on fleshing out what she saw. When I began to understand how she worked as an artist, I could then write scenes with her – how she felt when she met Trey and saw his artwork, what they talked about. How she looked at him: “I drew the way his tight curls burst out from under the brim of his hat, his rounded features—that curved nose—was he part Cherokee? His lips were square at the top, so full at the bottom.”
In general, I think that art and writing hit us in different senses. Visual art goes through the eyes and is immediate – it can change your life in an instant. Andy Warhol, with his colorful imprints of movie stars, transformed our whole culture. The effect of writing is a bit slower. You have to process, to think about the words, to let them simmer inside you to sense the change. But something like Fifty Shades of Grey, for example, can open up a whole world of feelings no one knew existed, those secret desires so many kept hidden out of shame.
To be fair, I don’t think there is a fight between art and words. They are, after all, both expressions of the inner self. That is the truest gauge of good art – does it articulate and communicate what the artist is thinking and feeling? If it touches you, the viewer or reader, on some level, then the artist, or writer,has done their job successfully. That, ultimately, was our guiding force.
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About the Authors:
Julie Chibbaro and Jean-Marc Superville Sovak are the husband and wife duo behind Into the Dangerous World (Viking 2015).
Julie Chibbaro was born into a family of artists, and also married one. She grew up in NYC during the explosion of graffiti art. She has written two historical novels, Redemption, which won the American Book Award, and Deadly, which won the National Jewish Book Award. JM Superville Sovak is half-Trini, half-Czech, half-Canadian. His fourth half is spent making art, for which he earned his M.F.A. from Bard College in NY.
They both live in Beacon, NY.
Find Julie & JM Online:
Website | Julies Website | JM's Website | Twitter | Julie's Facebook | JM's Facebook | Goodreads | Tumblr