100 books like The Secret World of Walter Anderson

By Hester Bass, E.B. Lewis (illustrator),

Here are 100 books that The Secret World of Walter Anderson fans have personally recommended if you like The Secret World of Walter Anderson. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of She Made a Monster: How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein

Lori Mortensen Author Of Nonsense! The Curious Story of Edward Gorey

From my list on children’s books about people who made a difference.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an award-winning children’s author of more than 100 books, including many biographies. I first fell in love with biographies when I was a child and read about young blind and deaf Helen Keller. Blind and deaf? I couldn’t imagine. Yet, page by page, as I stepped into little Helen’s world, I felt as if I experienced her struggles, triumphs, and tragedies right along with her. I discovered that in spite of her great challenges, she succeeded. That’s why I love biographies and why I write them. I hope my biographies open a door into someone else’s world that can remind readers that they can succeed too, in spite of obstacles in front of them. I try to write the sort of picture books I love—funny, whimsical, captivating, and unforgettable.

Lori's book list on children’s books about people who made a difference

Lori Mortensen Why did Lori love this book?

Everyone’s heard of Frankenstein, but a lot of people may not know that this legendary monster was created by a woman named Mary Shelley. In this fascinating picture book biography, Fulton doesn’t cover Mary Shelley’s entire life from beginning to end. Instead, she hones in on the most fascinating part—Lake Geneva, a stormy night, and a ghost-story challenge—that prompted Shelley to explore her imagination and write what has become one of the most famous monster stories of all time-- Frankenstein.

By Lynn Fulton, Felicita Sala (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked She Made a Monster as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A 2018 New York Times/New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children's Books

On the bicentennial of Frankenstein, join Mary Shelley on the night she created the most frightening monster the world has ever seen.

On a stormy night two hundred years ago, a young woman sat in a dark house and dreamed of her life as a writer. She longed to follow the path her own mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, had started down, but young Mary Shelley had yet to be inspired.

As the night wore on, Mary grew more anxious. The next day was the deadline that her friend, the…


Book cover of Strange Mr. Satie: Composer of the Absurd

Lori Mortensen Author Of Nonsense! The Curious Story of Edward Gorey

From my list on children’s books about people who made a difference.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an award-winning children’s author of more than 100 books, including many biographies. I first fell in love with biographies when I was a child and read about young blind and deaf Helen Keller. Blind and deaf? I couldn’t imagine. Yet, page by page, as I stepped into little Helen’s world, I felt as if I experienced her struggles, triumphs, and tragedies right along with her. I discovered that in spite of her great challenges, she succeeded. That’s why I love biographies and why I write them. I hope my biographies open a door into someone else’s world that can remind readers that they can succeed too, in spite of obstacles in front of them. I try to write the sort of picture books I love—funny, whimsical, captivating, and unforgettable.

Lori's book list on children’s books about people who made a difference

Lori Mortensen Why did Lori love this book?

I love this picture book biography about composer Erik Satie. It has all the ingredients I love—lyrical language, fascinating details, and most of all a compelling story, in this case, about a man as odd and enchanting as his music that sounded happy and sad, like “kick line songs and ancient chants, but mixed together.” His most famous musical composition is Gymnopédie. Although Satie was a musical misfit and struggled throughout his life, in the end, he succeeded, leaving the world with a legacy of unforgettable music.

By M.T. Anderson, Petra Mathers (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Strange Mr. Satie as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 7, 8, 9, and 10.

What is this book about?

In a brilliant performance worthy of the composer, M. T. Anderson and Petra Mathers present a picture-book biography of the singular Erik Satie.

Throughout his life, Erik Satie wanted to make a new kind of music, a kind of music both very young and very old, very bold and very shy, that followed no rules but its own.

At first glance, Erik Satie looked as normal as anyone else in Paris one hundred years ago. Beyond his shy smile, however, was a mind like no other. When Satie sat down at the piano to compose or play music, his tunes…


Book cover of Me... Jane

Brenda Z. Guiberson Author Of Into the Sea

From my list on that spark a lifetime of investigation.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm an award-winning, best-selling children’s author who writes about unexpected “wow” moments that stick with me. I look for books and articIes that take me on a deep journey into unknown environments. I aim for nonfiction that reads like a story with an emotional connection to new creatures with fascinating lifestyles. As a writer of dozens of books for children, I always learn much more that can go into each effort. Each book comes into a hazy focus after tons of research. The best “wow” details get woven into an incredible story full of surprise, joy, and admiration for those struggling to survive on our changing plant.  

Brenda's book list on that spark a lifetime of investigation

Brenda Z. Guiberson Why did Brenda love this book?

This book is about Jane Goodall, famous chimp researcher and United Nations Messenger of Peace. As a child, she shared her backyard “magical world of nature” with her stuffed chimp named Jubilee. The book Tarzan of the Apes expanded her passion into dreams of going to Africa to study animals. “Wow!” She did it, and her stick-to-it observations led to the discovery that chimpanzees make and use tools. As she protects wildlife she also helps people in wild places to get better food, water, and education. Her concerns for all creatures have inspired children around the world to take some action toward a better planet.  

By Patrick McDonnell,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Me... Jane as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In his characteristic heartwarming and minimalistic style, Patrick McDonnell tells the story of a young Jane Goodall and her special childhood toy chimpanzee named Jubilee. As the young Jane observes the natural world around her with wonder, she dreams of 'a life living with and helping all animals,' until one day she finds that her dream has come true.

One of the world's most inspiring women, Dr. Jane Goodall is a renowned humanitarian, conservationist, animal activist, environmentalist, and United Nations Messenger of Peace. In 1977 she founded the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI), a global nonprofit organization that empowers people to…


Book cover of Alice Ramsey's Grand Adventure

Lori Mortensen Author Of Nonsense! The Curious Story of Edward Gorey

From my list on children’s books about people who made a difference.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an award-winning children’s author of more than 100 books, including many biographies. I first fell in love with biographies when I was a child and read about young blind and deaf Helen Keller. Blind and deaf? I couldn’t imagine. Yet, page by page, as I stepped into little Helen’s world, I felt as if I experienced her struggles, triumphs, and tragedies right along with her. I discovered that in spite of her great challenges, she succeeded. That’s why I love biographies and why I write them. I hope my biographies open a door into someone else’s world that can remind readers that they can succeed too, in spite of obstacles in front of them. I try to write the sort of picture books I love—funny, whimsical, captivating, and unforgettable.

Lori's book list on children’s books about people who made a difference

Lori Mortensen Why did Lori love this book?

I’m a big fan of Don Brown and this is one of my favorites. In this biography, we follow the adventure of Alice Ramsey who was the first woman to drive across the United States. It was 1909, so no easy task since there weren’t any interstates, road maps, or gas stations. Yet, Alice, along with her companions, set off. Magically, Brown lets us go along with them as they ramble past farms and fields, muster their way down roads clogged with pigs, dig themselves out of muddy holes, and urge the car across vast moonlit deserts, and over the grueling Sierra Nevada mountains. Alice’s grand adventure not only celebrates a woman’s first, but takes us along for the long, extraordinary, bumpy ride. Bravo Alice! Bravo Don Brown!

By Don Brown,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Alice Ramsey's Grand Adventure as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Don Brown introduces us to yet another little-known heroine. On June 9, 1909, twenty-two-year-old Alice Ramsey hitched up her skirts and climbed behind the wheel of a Maxwell touring car. Fifty-nine days later she rolled into San Francisco, becoming the first woman to drive across America. What happened in between is quite a tale! Through words and pictures, the author shares this story of a brave and tenacious young woman who followed her vision to conquer the open road - even when the road was nothing more than a wagon trail. Alice Ramsey's adventure offers a unique perspective on turn-of-the-century…


Book cover of Nightbitch

Catherine Ricketts Author Of The Mother Artist: Portraits of Ambition, Limitation, and Creativity

From my list on smart and artful books about motherhood.

Why am I passionate about this?

Parenting books bore me. I don’t like reading instruction manuals, and don’t have time to weigh others’ opinions about how to raise my kids. But when I read books about motherhood forged in self-reflection and told with literary elegance, I become a more self-reflective parent and have the eyes to see beauty in my ordinary maternal experiences. Books like this are few and far between. It’s hard for mothers to make art; when our resources are spread thin in parenthood, why do work that may not pay? How to find time for creative rumination? But here’s a list of books written by mothers who persisted in their creative work to show us motherhood in all of its mundanity, mania, and magic. 

Catherine's book list on smart and artful books about motherhood

Catherine Ricketts Why did Catherine love this book?

This novel made me laugh out loud and made me ache with recognition.

A visual artist by training, the protagonist finds herself sequestered from the art world in the throes of early motherhood. In an uncanny, hilarious, and insightful story about a mother who turns into a dog, Nightbitch shows us the animality of motherhood—its fleshiness, its carnal love.

As a mother and an artist myself, I was inspired to lean into those aspects of parenting, trusting that even as they separate me from the world of propriety, ambition, and achievement, they ultimately enrich the art that I make.

By Rachel Yoder,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Nightbitch as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this blazingly smart and voracious debut novel, an artist turned stay-at-home mom becomes convinced she's turning into a dog. • "A must-read for anyone who can’t get enough of the ever-blurring line between the psychological and supernatural that Yellowjackets exemplifies." —Vulture

One day, the mother was a mother, but then one night, she was quite suddenly something else...

An ambitious mother puts her art career on hold to stay at home with her newborn son, but the experience does not match her imagination. Two years later, she steps into the bathroom for a break from her toddler's demands, only…


Book cover of This Little Artist: An Art History Primer

Lorie Ann Grover Author Of I Love All of Me (Wonderful Me)

From my list on children's board books to cut your teeth on.

Why am I passionate about this?

In the course of everyday life, when I’m writing books for middle grade and young adult readers, board books spring to my mind. Sometimes they come from catching a glimpse of a child hugging a parent, or they may spring from a phrase I overhear or say myself. That sounds like a board book, I think, and I write it down quickly. Sometimes, I’ll wake in the night, and a board book text will come to me in rhyme. Along with writing board books, I’ve been recommending quality works at the readertotz blog since 2009 in order to raise the profile of the format. Authors, illustrators, and publishers must create the very best quality, and then we must support, enjoy, and celebrate the works. A simple eight words may introduce a first reader to a love of books for life.

Lorie's book list on children's board books to cut your teeth on

Lorie Ann Grover Why did Lorie love this book?

Part of the This Little series, Joan Holub’s This Little Artist is an introduction to art history for our wee ones. Daniel Roode’s stylized figures with big round eyes illustrate greats such as Michelangelo, Mary Cassatt, and Jean-Michel Basquiat. A rhyme and portrait give an introduction on the left-hand page, and several facts follow to accompany the artist in their own setting on the right page. The book concludes with eighteen other artists and their techniques, as well as questioning what your reader might create. This is a little treasure of creativity and inspiration.  

By Joan Holub, Daniel Roode (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked This Little Artist as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, and 5.

What is this book about?

Learn all about artists who changed history in this engaging and colorful board book perfect for creators-in-training!

Painting, shaping, making art.
With creative joy, hands, and heart.

Little artists have great big imaginations.

In this follow up to This Little President, This Little Explorer, This Little Trailblazer, and This Little Scientist now even the youngest readers can learn all about great and empowering artists in history! Highlighting ten memorable artists who paved the way, parents and little ones alike will love this creativity primer full of fun, age-appropriate facts and bold illustrations.


Book cover of Holy Terror: Andy Warhol Close Up

Michael Findlay Author Of Seeing Slowly: Looking at Modern Art

From my list on making modern art exciting.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have spent an exciting half-century in the New York art world as a dealer and an author and while my passion is to encourage people to enjoy art for art’s sake (rather than money or prestige) my many close friendships with artists demonstrate how much their life informs their art. The authors of these five books bring the art as well as the artists to life.

Michael's book list on making modern art exciting

Michael Findlay Why did Michael love this book?

Of the many biographies of Andy Warhol this early one remains the best, written by a man who worked and partied with the artist in the heyday of the artist’s glamorous world (and I make another brief cameo appearance). Everything about the enigmatic icon of contemporary art continues to inform our culture and I was deeply influenced not only by Warhol’s paintings but by my friendship with him from 1964 until his death in 1987. In books and movies he has been transformed into a cultural icon rather than the complicated amusing hard-working artist I knew. Bob Colacello wrote this book shortly after Warhol died and for me is the best portrait of the “real” Andy Warhol and the era he helped to define.

By Bob Colacello,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Holy Terror as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the 1960s, Andy Warhol’s paintings redefined modern art. His films provoked heated controversy, and his Factory was a hangout for the avant-garde. In the 1970s, after Valerie Solanas’s attempt on his life, Warhol become more entrepreneurial, aligning himself with the rich and famous. Bob Colacello, the editor of Warhol’s Interview magazine, spent that decade by Andy’s side as employee, collaborator, wingman, and confidante.

In these pages, Colacello takes us there with Andy: into the Factory office, into Studio 54, into wild celebrity-studded parties, and into the early-morning phone calls where the mysterious artist was at his most honest and…


Book cover of Yoko Ono: An Artful Life

John Corcelli Author Of Outside Looking In: The Seriously Funny Life and Work of George Carlin

From my list on the most creative artists of our time.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a student of biography. Artists, musicians, and comedians are what I read about. I crave to know what makes a great artist tick, how their ideas develop, and why they choose to pursue their craft at huge personal expense. I’m motivated to write more of my own. These biographies are informative, entertaining, and engaging reads, well worth your time. It’s a challenging and frustrating process to tell an artist’s story. Yet their roots, their influences, and how they shake up popular culture make for greater insight into our humanity. Artists take risks and I’m always impressed by the boldness of their vision.

John's book list on the most creative artists of our time

John Corcelli Why did John love this book?

One of the most misunderstood artists of the last century has to be Yoko Ono. Donald Brackett, whose written biographies of Amy Winehouse, Tina Turner, and Sharon Jones, has done an excellent job of telling Ono’s story, going way beyond the standard, reductive tales about Ono and her relationship with John Lennon. His book traces Ono’s roots in Japan, her early works of performance art, and her time in New York in the Fifties mixing with the city’s art scene in Soho. Brackett’s love and respect for Ono’s artistic achievements shines throughout its pages.

By Donald Brackett,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Yoko Ono as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For more than sixty years, Yoko Ono has fascinated us as one of the world’s most innovative, radical artists. From a childhood of both extraordinary privilege and extreme deprivation in war-time Japan, she adopted an outsider’s persona and moved to America where, after a spell at Sarah Lawrence College, she made a place for herself in bohemian arts circles. She was already twice divorced and established as a performance artist in the Fluxus movement and in Tokyo’s avant-garde scene before her fortuitous meeting with the Beatles’ John Lennon at a London Gallery in 1966.

Their intense yet fraught relationship, reputed…


Book cover of Stitches

Frieda Wishinsky Author Of Avis Dolphin

From my list on bringing real events and real kids alive.

Why am I passionate about this?

From the time I was a kid, I loved books about real people who lived through difficult and colorful times.  As a writer, I’ve written about people whose lives fascinated and inspired me like Franklin Law Olmsted (The Man Who Made Parks) I believe that a riveting story or memoir gives the reader a strong sense of a person and the times in which they lived. And after reading one of these books, I wanted to know more about the person and the period in which they lived.

Frieda's book list on bringing real events and real kids alive

Frieda Wishinsky Why did Frieda love this book?

In this riveting memoir told through minimum text and vivid black and white graphic art, we learn of the hardships, sorrow, and choices Small dealt with as a young man. Although heartbreaking, this is ultimately a story of courage despite a painful upbringing. The reader senses how art helped Small cope with sadness, disappointment, and confusion growing up in a difficult family.

By David Small,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Stitches as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

David Small, a best-selling and highly regarded children's book illustrator, comes forward with this unflinching graphic memoir. Remarkable and intensely dramatic, Stitches tells the story of a fourteen-year-old boy who awakes one day from a supposedly harmless operation to discover that he has been transformed into a virtual mute-a vocal cord removed, his throat slashed and stitched together like a bloody boot. From horror to hope, Small proceeds to graphically portray an almost unbelievable descent into adolescent hell and the difficult road to physical, emotional, and artistic recovery.

A National Book Award finalist; winner of the ALA's Alex Award; a…


Book cover of Whistler: A Life for Art's Sake

Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern Author Of Lenin's Jewish Question

From my list on European art, culture, and history.

Why am I passionate about this?

Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern is the Crown Family Professor of Jewish Studies and a Professor of Jewish History in the History Department at Northwestern University. He teaches a variety of courses that include early modern and modern Jewish history; Jewish mysticism and Kabbalah; history and culture of Ukraine; and Slavic-Jewish literary encounters.

Yohanan's book list on European art, culture, and history

Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern Why did Yohanan love this book?

Known to broad public due to the hilarious “Whistler’s Mother” starring Mr. Bean, James Whistler is a paramount American participant in the Fin-de-siècle artistic life of France and England and a predecessor of most important artistic endeavors of the 20th century. Daniel Sutherland combed all possible archives and  produced a stunning study of Whistler’s private life, full of scandals, sufferings, travels, and triumphs. From the childhood Whister spent in the tsarist Russia to his vagabond life in Paris, his life is always a journey and a self-quest. Eminently readable and bright narrative of a somber and paradoxical character.

By Daniel E. Sutherland,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Whistler as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A major new biography of James McNeill Whistler, one of most complex, intriguing, and important of America's artists

This engaging personal history dispels the popular notion of James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903) as merely a combative, eccentric, and unrelenting publicity seeker. The Whistler revealed in these beautifully illustrated pages is an intense, introspective, and complex man, plagued by self-doubt and haunted by an endless pursuit of perfection in his painting and drawing.

"[Sutherland] seeks to get behind the public Whistler . . . never judging or condescending to his subject. . . . The portrait of Whistler that emerges is complex…


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