Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Magic Trash: A Story of Tyree Guyton and his art

Magic Trash: A Story of Tyree Guyton and his art

J. H. Shapiro
Illustrator:  Vanessa Brantley Newton 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Charlesbridge, 2011   ISBN: 978-1580893855

Tyree lived with his ten brothers and sisters in a house on the East Side of Detroit. There wasn’t much money around to spend on toys, so Tyree collected “amazing junk” and he turned what he found into playthings. Then, when Tyree was nine his grandpa, who was a house painter, put a paintbrush in Tyree’s hand and Tyree began to explore the world of color. He was so excited by the greens, blues, and reds that he decided that he was going to be an artist when he grew up. Tyree was not put off when his mother said that being an artist was “not a job.”

   When Tyree was sixteen he left his neighborhood and went out into the world. He was a soldier, he inspected cars in a factory, and he served as a firefighter. Tyree never forgot about his dream to be a painter and he went to art school to learn the fundamentals. Then he went back to his old neighborhood in Detroit and he was shocked so see how sad and neglected it looked. There was trash everywhere.

   Just as he did when he was a kid, Tyree began to make things out of junk, and then he painted them. He painted the abandoned buildings as well. He turned what other people threw away into art, and his joyful colors drove away people who wanted to bring darkness and suffering to the neighborhood.

   In this remarkable story children will find out about a man who turned trash into art and who saved the neighborhood where he grew up at the same time. The story is inspirational and children will see that art comes in many forms and it serves many purposes. It always offers something interesting or beautiful for the eye to look upon, but it can also heal, and it can unite people in a common cause.

   At the back of the book readers will find an author’s note that provides them with further information about Tyree Guyton and his art.