BEFORE I GREW UP

After hearing about Cucco’s death in 2006, Miller—who had previously collaborated with Cucco on two children’s books—linked a series of Cucco’s paintings to tell this first-person story about the artist’s childhood. Weaving together these heretofore-unconnected oil paintings, many of them deeply atmospheric and enigmatic, results in a somewhat inscrutable narrative. Readers wanting something on the unconventional side may find it thrilling, and the book could serve as a compelling classroom writing prompt. One Hopper-esque painting depicts a man, seen from behind through an open door, sitting near a body of water; it is paired with text about a father who studied the “kind of light he said was inaccessible.” Another painting of a man floating in a blue sky reads: “Sometimes, I would dream that I could float into the sky like a bird.” This series of impressions—about Cucco’s childhood years, parents, moments in nature, dreams, life in the city before an eventual return to the country, and more—possesses a predominantly upbeat, if sometimes cryptic, tone. (One spread is about dreams that were “dark and scary” and features a more sinister, shadowy image.) The paintings are highly textured and richly colored, many showcasing a vivid, sunny yellow. All characters are White.

BEFORE I GREW UP
After hearing about Cucco’s death in 2006, Miller—who had previously collaborated with Cucco on two children’s books—linked a series of Cucco’s paintings to tell this first-person story about the artist’s childhood. Weaving together these heretofore-unconnected oil paintings, many of them deeply atmospheric and enigmatic, results in a somewhat inscrutable narrative. Readers wanting something on the unconventional side may find it thrilling, and the book could serve as a compelling classroom writing prompt. One Hopper-esque painting depicts a man, seen from behind through an open door, sitting near a body of water; it is paired with text about a father who studied the “kind of light he said was inaccessible.” Another painting of a man floating in a blue sky reads: “Sometimes, I would dream that I could float into the sky like a bird.” This series of impressions—about Cucco’s childhood years, parents, moments in nature, dreams, life in the city before an eventual return to the country, and more—possesses a predominantly upbeat, if sometimes cryptic, tone. (One spread is about dreams that were “dark and scary” and features a more sinister, shadowy image.) The paintings are highly textured and richly colored, many showcasing a vivid, sunny yellow. All characters are White.