The Noisy Paint Box

The Noisy Paint Box

The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky's Abstract Art

eBook - 2014
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A Caldecott Honor Book
Vasya Kandinsky was a proper little boy: he studied math and history, he practiced the piano, he sat up straight and was perfectly polite. And when his family sent him to art classes, they expected him to paint pretty houses and flowers—like a proper artist.

But as Vasya opened his paint box and began mixing the reds, the yellows, the blues, he heard a strange sound—the swirling colors trilled like an orchestra tuning up for a symphony! And as he grew older, he continued to hear brilliant colors singing and see vibrant sounds dancing. But was Vasya brave enough to put aside his proper still lifes and portraits and paint . . . music?

In this exuberant celebration of creativity, Barb Rosenstock and Mary GrandPré tell the fascinating story of Vasily Kandinsky, one of the very first painters of abstract art. Throughout his life, Kandinsky experienced colors as sounds, and sounds as colors—and bold, groundbreaking works burst forth from his noisy paint box.

Backmatter includes four paintings by Kandinsky, an author's note, sources, links to websites on synesthesia and abstract art.
Publisher: Random House Children's Books


From the critics

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Aug 30, 2019

Week 16

Oct 17, 2018

Kandinsky heard colors and and painted music. Kids will love this tale about doing art your way!

ArapahoeKayla Jul 27, 2018

This book was beautiful in how it captured Kandinsky's discovery of painting in such a magical way! Illustrations and storytelling are fantastic, plus the author provides some great background info at the very end.

ArapahoeCassidy Jul 25, 2018

An awesome Caldecott Honor picture book about Russian artist Vasya Kandinsky and the importance of freedom of expression. The illustrations are delightful and full of color, the story is interesting and offers me a window into an artist's mind. This would be a fun book to read to youngsters, but also a care-free read for adults, too.

ArapahoeStaff19 Jul 24, 2018

An impressive portrait of a young Kandinsky. When his aunt gives him his first paint box, it comes alive. Sounds burst out from the colors within. Experiencing sounds as colors and colors as sounds influences Kandinsky's groundbreaking work, becoming the first recognized in abstract art. This book is just lovely.

Aug 07, 2016


May 22, 2016

I have returned this book weeks ago after my class

0Charlie Feb 04, 2015

Visually stunning work describing a simplified version of the life of artist Vasya Kandinsky.

BklynKalliopiM Dec 18, 2014

I love the classic approach of this picture book, and how it is able to balance factual information with beautiful illustrations. At the end of the book, it's clear that Kandinsky had a special outlook on art and creating paintings. Strong senses of curiosity, exploration, and novel thinking are weaved throughout the book, making it much more than a book about Kandinsky: it's a book about perseverance, individuality, and following your heart.

Dec 16, 2014

This is the story of the life of the abstract artist Vasily Kandinsky. It begins when he was a boy living in an upper class Russian home. He has to learn all of the typical things expected of a proper gentleman. It isn't until his aunt gives him his first paint box that a new world is opened to him. He hears the colors and paints them as he hears them (he has a condition called synesthesia in which he hears colors). No one understands his art though. He goes on to become a lawyer, but later comes back to art. He quits his job to become an artist. He tries painting what everyone else does, but it does not make him happy. So he stays with painting colors as he hears them.

This story was told in a simple enough manner than children could understand Kandinsky's life and a bit about his art. The illustrations were done with paint and collage so they were interesting and different as well as colorful.

I highly recommend this story for learning more about art or abstract art, especially for teachers to use in the classroom.


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red_lion_1061 Jul 29, 2014

red_lion_1061 thinks this title is suitable for 7 years and under


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